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Profitability and sustainability remain distant goals for potato sector

20 November 2012

Launching the consultation on AHDB Potatoes’s 2013-16 business plan amidst the most challenging potato season in history, Chairman Allan Stevenson told delegates at the industry’s biennial seed event in Crieff that AHDB Potatoes’s role was to keep an eye on the horizon and deliver a plan that develops a more sustainable and profitable sector than is the case today.

“Delivering greater sustainability and profitability will be very difficult if we allow ourselves to return to structural over-production in 2013 and beyond. Two extreme seasons in a row have created heightened tensions in our weaker supply chains and big losses for many growers and purchasers. These goals can only be achieved in a more balanced marketplace for GB potatoes” commented Mr. Stevenson. “AHDB Potatoes cannot control the weather; we cannot control planting levels; we cannot set prices; nor can we determine consumer demand. However, our corporate plan will support all our levy payers whatever our marketplace delivers for us.”

“I call upon industry leaders to join AHDB Potatoes early in the New Year at a summit where we will explore the current challenges in more detail and commit to developing solutions” he added.

The plan unveiled at Crieff captured the thoughts of over 90 industry players from growers to supply chain CEOs who serve on AHDB Potatoes committees and develop PCL’s functional activities and focused on agreed priorities including addressing the apparent  yield plateau, developing better storage, securing plant health, supporting seed, countering fresh decline and supporting processing.

Dr Rob Clayton, AHDB Potatoes’s Director summarized PCL’s approach to funding the plan, “when industry feels pain then so does AHDB Potatoes. We have seen a reduction in revenue in 2012 with less area planted and fewer potatoes traded and we have already made a commitment to peg levies at current levels. Our team has worked hard to ensure we continue to attract third party and match funding” he said.

“All AHDB Potatoes staff and board members have responded well to the challenge and have identified efficiencies in both the front line and support services. We’re confident that from showcasing GB through WPC2012, delivering against an agreed R&D strategy, addressing storage issues, working in partnership on new consumer signposting our current business plan remains on track and we are well placed to deliver in the future.

Challenging industry, Mr Stevenson concluded “we have what we believe to be a well balanced and highly focused plan that takes industry on a journey towards profitability and sustainability. But to succeed we will require everybody to reflect on the previous two seasons and help us identify what needs to change”.

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