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Scottish supplies find homes across the sea – Domestic price trends (May-19)

10 May 2019

This web page is updated monthly, for the latest potato prices see Potato Weekly.

Last updated: 10/05/2019

Next update: 07/06/2019


Planting round-up (as at w/e 10/05/19)

For many planting is complete and nearing the end for others. Across the country emergence is underway, with most growers seeing at least their first-planted poking their heads out. Pre-emergence herbicides have generally been applied across the country, with some waiting for warmer weather to bring things on. Recent rain has been welcomed by most, as soil moisture was a common issue. With the majority ahead of schedule, and certainly well ahead of last year, growers are generally not concerned about small delays.

Planting this year has gone well on the whole. Favourable conditions in March meant many growers started planting earlier than usual in England. In Scotland, planting generally was not much earlier than usual. Most crops have gone into decent conditions and pre-emergence sprays have also been applied in a timely manner. Soil temperatures have been on the low side across Britain. The recent rain is generally welcomed, but consistent rain is necessary going forward to replenish lacking soil moisture. Warmer weather would help things progress further too, with cold weather slowing development in Scotland.


Domestic prices

The WAPS price index has shown a general downward trend in free-buy pricing since the pickup pre-Christmas. This follows an ongoing slide in packing prices, with price competitive Scottish supplies moving into England and weighing on markets. In addition, reports throughout the season indicate that companies have been able to limit free-buy purchases to cheaper material, with movement of higher value varieties mostly under contract.

The packing markets have mostly been driven by a large quantity of good quality supplies available in Scotland. Limited local demand led M Piper and Whites prices to slip earlier in the year, causing supplies to become more competitive against English origins. Since then we have seen the price of packing Whites prices stabilise as supplies move south into England and exporters send significant volumes over to the continent.

In England prices have largely stabilised. Good quality samples with high baker fractions are commanding high premiums over other samples. Limited retail promotions for M Piper throughout the year has contributed to a continual slide since Christmas.

Prices have been fairly flat in the bag market in recent weeks. Firm prices for best quality have helped support the market.

The recent bank holidays saw some pickup in coastal trade in the bag market, with good weather over the Easter weekend reportedly boosting chip shop trade. However, as a whole demand has remained limited, with many chip shops cutting portion sizes or raising prices to help with increased costs. End users remain hard to please having come out of a season of plentiful amounts of good quality cheap chipping potatoes into a tight supply year with highly variable quality.

Demand for good quality chipping potatoes is likely to remain strong despite an increasing scarcity in supply. As a result, chip shops could have to utilise an increased amount of middle to low quality supplies. However, ample supplies of this lower quality material may supress potential rises in the bottom end of the market.

While a decent amount of trade is taking place for low value peeling supplies, we have captured little to no domestic free-buy trade for frying supplies in Potato Weekly. Processors continue to carefully manage contracted stock to avoid having to purchase higher priced free-buy supplies.

Export trade since Christmas has been booming with strong demand for both processing and fresh supplies from the continent. Belgian and Dutch factories have been hoovering up any available seed tops meeting frying spec and demand for packing supplies has been good across the continent. With Brexit deadlines delayed again, a brisk export trade may be maintained for the near future.

For a more detailed look at export trade and potential impacts click here.