Since the weather has become colder, retail demand and household consumption of potatoes have increased. The last few weeks have been particularly challenging for growers harvesting as conditions were very poor, leading to higher-than-average waste. Drying and grading is also very slow due to high levels of soil contamination.
Between 15-20% of crop remains to be harvested, with areas of Cork and the north east worst affected. At this point in the season the risk of frost damage is a big concern.
Storage costs are a multiple of last year’s costs and growers must immediately receive an increase at farm gate level to compensate for this.
In the UK, ambient stores are difficult to hold while it has been so mild and “wets” in bags are a problem for some growers, particularly where crops were lifted late. Sprouting is also causing growers to market crops earlier than intended. Although demand has not been strong this week, some growers with best quality samples are trying to force value higher.
Across Europe, domestic markets are reported to be showing some signs of increased consumption and prices are holding steady.