Potatoes to remain pricey

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WITH only half the normal UK potato acreage planted by the end of April and prices for last year’s “free from contract” crop hitting new highs, a leading expert has forecast that prices across Europe are set to remain strong for the coming season.

While the weather has been responsible for much of the lateness in planting, another factor leading to the reduced acreage in the ground has been poor profitability among growers who contracted their crops last year.

According to Guy Faulkner, of World Potato Markets: “Production normally soars after a high-priced year, but it does not look as if this will happen this year.”

Wet weather in 2012 meant that potato production in the five key growing countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and UK – was at one its lowest levels ever, sending “free to buy” prices to all-time highs.

“We are predicting that production will be below average in all of the main European countries apart from Belgium. With demand for potatoes and potato products still very strong across the world, it is likely that prices in Europe will remain above average.”