Suffolk's potato growers are facing dropping prices, coupled with increased costs. Many are choosing to cut their growing areas as market forces combined with disease and weather risks make the crop less viable. James Wrinch, managing director at East Suffolk Produce - which has 7 farmer members and trades with about 15 altogether - said the situation was tough: They were feeling collectively ‘grumpy’ about the situation. "It's not fun at the moment."
Collectively, his group grows about 80,000 tons out of the UK total of around 5 million tons - but overall they will be growing less this season, he said. "We will be about 10% down on average," he said. "The decline in area is reflective of the risk of growing and investing that amount of money in an area where potatoes have been in plentiful supply."
Growing potatoes is a specialist area which requires costly equipment - making it difficult to get out of it altogether without losing money. But he estimated that this year it would cost about £10,000/ha to grow the crop. On that, growers would hope to make around 10% to 15% profit.