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Exports of fresh potatoes increased again as March sets new records

Publication Date: 
7 June 2019

Peter Collier, Analyst, Peter.Collier@AHDB.org.uk, 0247 647 8851

Aidan Wright, Analyst, Aidan.Wright@AHDB.org.uk, 0247 647 8894

  • At over 20Kt, exports of fresh potatoes in March to EU countries was the highest on record for this month.*
  • Driving the rise in fresh exports has been a notable increase in volumes being sent to less-traditional export regions such as Poland, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belgium and France.
  • The rise in exports to these alternative markets has outweighed the seasonal trend during which volumes to the likes of Spain gradually tail off as new crop gets lifted.

The increase in UK fresh potato exports comes as little surprise, with many in the trade expecting a brisk pace to have also continued through April and May. Shortfalls across the continent this season, as a result of the drought, resulted in an increase in import demand. France the traditional supplier of ware potatoes to the continent has been unable to meet this demand.

This has created an opportunity for attractively priced Scottish supplies to help meet some of the shortfall on the continent. French stocks have now run low and export prices for ware potatoes increased significantly, £300/t in March and continued upward. The French government agency RNM has now been unable to quote export prices for several weeks as the free-buy market is almost non-existent at this stage. 

At the same time, prices for good quality packing whites in Scotland have remained subdued throughout the season, due in part to muted local demand.

While export demand has begun to tail off, prices for packing material have begun to increase over the past few weeks. This is due in part to packhouses re-entering the free-buy market. But with the new crop still some time off, how much free-buy is left available? And how much has ended up on dinner tables across Europe?

*Current above threshold records back to 2012

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