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Wet weather causes lifting delays - October 2019

8 November 2019

October has brought wide-spread rainfall causing problems for maincrop lifting for much of the country. As of WE22 October, 70% of the GB potato area (excluding seed) had been lifted. Quality of later-lifted crops has been variable with above average levels of black leg and associated rots reported on particularly saturated soils. Concerns over storage issues are prevalent across all regions.

Although there has been problems with off-field supply, demand has remained fairly steady for free-buy material. There has been some support in prices over the month on the back of the lifting problems.

The packing market remains relatively quiet for free-buy supplies as packhouses utilise contracted material. The free-buy movement tended to be top-up supplies in order to fulfil orders. As wet weather caused delays to lifting there was a tightening of supplies coming from field and those that were coming in had a high percentage of mud and often required extra work.

The Maris Piper price, which in September dropped below the grade 1 whites price, has since recovered ending the month back above packing whites.

Bagged chipping material from the East has increased in price over October as lifting problems tighten supply. Towards the end of the month concerns have been raised about fry colour problems as tubers have been under stress, however this isn’t a major problem yet.

Most processors are still moving primarily contracted material with limited room for free-buy supplies. The processing quotes we are receiving tend to be for peeling jobs with a range in prices depending on the quality and end requirement.

The weather has supported some prices for peeling material however; lower quality produce that needs moving quickly is fetching a reduced price as the month has progressed.

Export trade was steady into the Canary Islands throughout the month of October. The collapse of Thomas Cook may potentially dampen demand slightly as concerns around a potential reduction in tourists lowers the import requirement for potatoes used in food service.

Exports into European countries such as Poland and Belgium also dried up towards the end of the month when uncertainty remained regarding the trading position of the UK after 31 October. Export trade has resumed since then but there is still room for more business.