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GB Potatoes: Market intelligence 2017-18

22 November 2017

Our annual market intelligence overview is here!

Foreword - Rob Clayton

At the time of writing this, in late October, the full crop picture is still unknown. Although planted area was up again in 2017 by a further 4%, we learnt from last season that poor yields can offset the impact of an area increase. That said, many within the industry are expecting a larger crop this season. This has increased speculation of poorer financial yields for many growers, as buyers seize the chance to recoup some of the costs following the previous two high-priced years. This is becoming apparent, as we have seen the WAPS free-buy price drop by almost £50/t since the start of the season. Although there are a growing number of reports suggesting higher than average yields this year, there is still a lot to be revealed about the total GB crop size. AHDB’s production estimate, due to be released around the end of November, will provide an insight for the coming season’s available crop, so stay tuned to Potato Weekly for further updates.

Regardless of market conditions, we can ensure that the market information we provide equips our levy payers and stakeholders with the information needed to make the best possible business decisions. Produced by the AHDB Market Intelligence (MI) team, whose systems are certified to ISO 9001:2015, the aim of this annual publication is to provide trusted, key information about the GB potato market in order to inform decision-making and provide answers for common questions about the industry. This publication provides final figures for the 2016/17 crop year and provisional area figures for the 2017/18 season (as of November 2017).

The AHDB MI division’s role is to communicate accurate, timely, independent and transparent information on potato markets and prices. Senior Analyst Sara Maslowski and Analyst’s Amber Cottingham and James Webster provide potato expertise in the Market Specialists team, an integral part of the MI division. They can draw on the support of consumer specialist Emily Beardshaw and Data & Analysis team to give their work context and assured quality. Their role is to provide information to help growers and purchasers understand the business environment for potatoes, giving them the information to make fully informed business decisions. The launch of the new Potato Data Centre (potatodatacentre.ahdb.org.uk) now provides the industry with the latest prices and statistics, visualised in an interactive way to provide insight and knowledge to facilitate these business decisions. We would like to express our thanks to the many individuals and organisations that have provided us with information and support for this publication.

Introduction

The 2017/18 season is looking to be a year characterised by a significantly higher level of production and lower average farmgate prices for many markets. Although a clear production picture was not available at the time of writing, reports suggest yields are likely to be higher than average. Increased yields, coupled with a 4% area increase this season makes a compelling argument for higher production. This comes in stark contrast to the previous season where, despite an area increase, yields were below average and production dipped for the second year in a row. This helped to drive farmgate prices higher than average for the second year running. It therefore came as no surprise that the planted area increased once more this season, owing to the strong correlation between higher farmgate prices driving increases in planted area (see Figure 5 for more detail).

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