AHDB Potatoes Market Intelligence Analysts estimate the total area planted with potatoes in Great Britain this season is 121,000 hectares. This is up by four per cent on the previous year, the same as 2014 and at a similar level to the area planted in 2012 and 2013.
The increase in area in Britain matches similar estimates from across the channel. The North-west European Potato Growers (NEPG), which covers Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK, estimated a combined increase of 3.6% for last month.
Despite area increase, final production figures will depend on the yield of potatoes per hectare. AHDB market analysts’ considered various yield scenarios, pointing to a likely rise in production. Amber Cottingham said:
“A five-year average yield of 44.7 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) would see a production increase of four per cent. This average includes 2012, which was an extremely low yielding year due to adverse weather. If we exclude 2012 from the average it becomes 46.7t/ha, harvest at that rate would result in an 8% increase in potatoes on the market compared to the 2016/17 season.”
The season average price for potatoes in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, which each had a similar planted area to the estimate for this season, was £154 per tonne and £127 per tonne respectively. These season average prices include potatoes sold on a contract with retailers or on the open market, known as ‘free-buy’.
Ms Cottingham said: “There is still a lot of growing time remaining in the season, so nothing can be taken for granted at this stage. An increase in production of between four per cent and eight per cent might sound sensible, but if this season sees another record high-yielding year such as 2015 then production could be as high as 5.9 million tonnes. This would be 13 per cent up on the previous season. Although if weather events change dramatically and yields take a nosedive then production could still be as low 4.5 million tonnes, a 14 per cent decrease in production on the previous season.”
The estimate is produced using anonymised and aggregated data from levy payer’s return forms, which is analysed through an ISO controlled process. Price and production figures are based on AHDB Market Intelligence figures, compiled through weekly communications with a sample from the market.
In August AHDB will update the estimate to include the varieties of potatoes grown and regional figures.