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AHDB Potatoes Strategy targets productivity, quality and reputation in a rapidly changing market

1 December 2016

Driving productivity and quality by working closer with agronomists and using international benchmarking to learn from abroad are the key themes underpinning a new three year AHDB Potatoes strategy.

These two focus areas will be supported by a third key strand of ‘influencing the influencers’ working within education and health stakeholders to position potatoes and potato products from Great Britain as the carbohydrate of choice for consumers.

The vision of AHDB’s new ‘Inspiring Success’ corporate strategy is ‘creating a world-class food and farming industry’. It has also redefined AHDB’s purpose as ‘inspiring farmers, growers and the industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world’.

The 2017-2020 AHDB Potatoes Strategy, now out for a six week consultation, is a response to the longer term challenge posed by a fragmented knowledge exchange landscape coupled with a cautious recovery in potato consumption and fierce international competitors.

Fiona Fell, AHDB Potatoes Sector Board Chair said: “One of our main challenges is to increase the pace and delivery of our knowledge exchange. Our investment in research over the years through Sutton Bridge and others has meant AHDB has an excellent and growing bank of game-changing knowledge.

“However there is a need to ensure that this translates effectively on-farm. We will be combining this with key learnings from our European competitors in how they tackle disease, soils, water and storage.

“Survey work has told us that producers have identified peer-to-peer learning and their agronomists as key routes to hear about new methods and business practices. Our strategy therefore proposes a focus on placing Strategic Potato Farms (SPot Farms) at the heart of our knowledge exchange work, and building a more consistent approach to working with agronomists and other third parties. This mirrors a similar approach to knowledge exchange proposed in the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Strategy.”

The AHDB Potatoes strategy also focuses on cost benchmarking, both at a domestic and global level through the continued roll out of Farmbench and AHDB’s participation in international potato benchmarking groups. This will be supported by work equipping grower businesses with clear data on consumer trends and opportunities.

Driving a positive consumer attitude towards potatoes at home and overseas is reflected in the continuation of promotional work until 2018 with Board Bia. Positioning potatoes, and potato products as the “carb of choice” will be delivered by targeting influencers such as key press and media, food bloggers, schools and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This would use AHDB Potatoes’ existing strong evidence base in areas such as environmental sustainability and health.

The strategy also proposes developing seed export opportunities, recognising that around 20 overseas markets currently have agreed market access but little or no trade underway.

“We can use AHDB’s international trade team to work on getting the seed export trade moving into these untapped markets, utilising the team’s know-how in delivering similar projects in the red meat sector,” said Mrs Fell.

To fund the new areas of work, the draft strategy proposes a phase out of some existing activities including routine potato market information reports and the potential transfer of the Grow Your Own Potatoes programme to a third party for funding and delivery.

Mrs Fell added: “Grow Your Own potatoes is a successful scheme that we believe could now be attractive to a third party deliverer, thereby freeing up levy money to develop new approaches to improving the knowledge and awareness of potatoes and potato products.

“We recognise our levy payers’ commitment to engaging with schools and we are confident that we can maintain this through a refreshed approach to education.”

The strategy can be found on line at

The closing date for the consultation is 9 January 2017.

Potatoes levy rates for 2017/18 are to remain unchanged.

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Notes to editors

AHDB is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain. Established in 2008 and classified as a Non-Departmental Public Body, it supports the following industries: meat and livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs) in England; horticulture, milk and potatoes in Great Britain; and cereals and oilseeds in the UK. Further information on AHDB can be found at


For further information contact James Wilde, AHDB Head of Media & PR on 024 7647 8835 or . For out of hours enquiries, call AHDB press office on 024 7647 8800 or

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