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Breaking down UK potato exports in 2016/17

Publication Date: 
6 October 2017

Aidan Wright, Analyst, aidan.wright@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478894

Over the course of the 2016/17 season, 72% of all UK potato exports were shipped to EU destinations, down slightly (74%) compared with 2015/16. Total tonnage meanwhile remains largely unchanged at 387.8Kt, a reduction of less than 1% on the previous season. However, individual differences between the types of exports were present, as discussed below.

Processed

UK exports of processed potatoes increased to 113.5Kt in 2016/17, up 22kt (19%), on the previous season. 76% of these exports were shipped to EU destinations, a one percentage point increase on 2015/16. When looking at individual categories of processed potatoes, exports of frozen potatoes increased to 57.8Kt, up by 13Kt (28%) on the previous season. Similarly, exports of crisped potatoes increased by 3.6Kt (23%) on the previous season, reaching 25.8Kt.

Fresh

Fresh potato exports showed an 11% decrease on the previous season, falling to 175.2Kt. This was mainly due to tight supplies in both the UK and the continent, which meant that the priority was supplying the UK home market. Even with this reduction, exports of fresh potatoes are still our largest export market, making up 45% of total exports in the 2016/17 season. The overwhelming majority of fresh potato exports were once again destined for EU countries with only 4.3Kt (2%) of total fresh exports being shipped to non-EU countries. 2.7Kt of these potatoes were exported to Norway with the next biggest export destination being Iceland, at 0.5Kt, the remaining tonnage was split between small orders from multiple countries.

Seed

The overall tonnage of seed potato exports remained largely unchanged at 99.2Kt in 2016/17, from 99.4Kt in 2015/16; however the amount exported to EU destinations was slightly lower at 22% of total seed exports, down from 27%.

The biggest reductions in seed exports to the EU in 2016/17 was to Spain and the Netherlands, down 3.6Kt and 1.7Kt respectively compared to 2015/16. Exports to the Republic of Ireland on the other hand increased by 1.4Kt.

The UK seed export market was once again dominated by Egyptian purchases in the 2016/17 season. Exports to Egypt increased by 8.4Kt, from the previous season, to 57.9Kt, bringing Egypt’s share of total UK seed exports to 58%, up from 50% in 2015/16.

Seed exports to other non-EU countries, excluding Egypt, fell to 19Kt, down 3.9Kt from the previous season. The largest reductions in exports were to Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which were down by 2.9Kt, 1.8Kt and 1.1Kt respectively. Aside from exports to Thailand, which increased by 2.5Kt on the previous season, all other export increases were minimal.

To summarise exports of fresh potatoes fell this year with tight supplies being cited as the main cause. Meanwhile processed potato exports increased again continuing their steady season on season increase. Egypt once again dominated the seed export market, increasing tonnage and becoming the destination for 58% of all seed exports this season. Stay tuned for our market summary video covering both exports and imports in the 2016/17 season.

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