What a whirlwind start to a trading season as late crops, quality issues and Brexit play a major part on ware grower prices across the UK. The European statistics indicate many supply and quality issues creating massive Export opportunities for many UK suppliers.
The current trade situation is well documented with all packers very wary of where prices are in danger of going to. With this in mind many packers are offering deals for late season contracts and extra tonnage into store with very mixed success depending upon the region. All supply sectors appear to be affected and demand will out strip supply for all products at some point during the season.
Quality is very mixed across the country and a lack of Vydate has caused many crop issues on marginal land. Internal issues on pressured crops is at a 10 year high, however there appears to be a North/South and East/West divide with less waste the further North and East we travel up the country and some yield increases. New resistant varieties have had mixed results with some outright winners and losers in this sector.
The salad/new market is a big winner (if you have some to sell) as supply is limited and price ex farm appears to be increasing weekly. Imports will be in high demand sooner rather than later as long as the end user is willing to pay.
Contract movement remains virtually to plan although some storage quality issues are beginning to show after a long dry season with black dot and bruising which doesn’t bode well for long term storage.
Grower confidence appears to be partly driving the trade given farmers attitude to “make hay while the sun shines” on their potato crop returns as cereals prices continue to be break even at best.
Are all of us going to learn lessons from last year? Are the “discounter” supermarkets whom control a large slice of the market sector going to be more sensible with their packer returns, if not we will see some casualty’s in this sector which will affect all supply sectors of the fresh potato industry. The packers appear to have been more sensible on rejections and waste, as this compounded the issue last year by discarding too many crops early on in the season.
How can we stop the discounters promoting a product that is in short supply for less than the growing cost? This has surely got to end for the market to be sustainable. Also the use of non-specific and non-packing varieties into various so called “value” and “essential” lines which must stop so we do not put off our potential next generation of buyers.