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Potato plantings by variety in Great Britain in 2017

Publication Date: 
30 August 2017

Amber Cottingham, Analyst, amber.cottingham@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478 698

AHDB Potatoes has now produced provisional estimates of planted areas by variety for Great Britain for 2017. The full breakdown of the top 50 varieties, with comparisons to the five previous seasons, can be found by clicking here.

This year’s movers and shakers

Last year’s top five varieties have continued to hold onto their top spots in 2017, see figure1 above; however, there have been some significant movements in the 6 to 10 placings. Most notably, Nectar moving into 6th place on the list, effectively bumping Royal from the top 10. Maris Piper continues to account for almost 15% of total area grown and considering its versatility at both a market and consumer level, this comes as no surprise.

Figure 2 above shows the varieties which have increased or decreased the most in hectares this year. Four out of the top five varieties that have increased the most in area, are intended for the packing sector. This year has seen the variety Nectar continue to gain in popularity, increasing in area by nearly 1,000 hectares. Melody, another popular packing white has also seen a significant increase, of nearly 700 hectares. This supports the overall increase in potatoes intended for the packing sector. That said, Estima, an old favourite, continues its long-term decline with nearly 400 hectares less planted this season. This supports the idea of “out with the old and in with the new” that we have been seeing increasingly in recent years.

Where are the changes occuring?

Figure 3 below shows area planted by intended market sector.

 

The two largest sectors – packing and processing – are both showing area changes in the same direction as last season. Intended area for packing has increased again and intended area for processing has decreased once again. As previously suggested, area changes can be closely linked to the price paid the previous season. For the packing sector, this has likely had an impact, as many prices were favourable during the 2015/16 and much of the 2016/17 season, up to the point when planting decisions would have taken place. Although the end of last season saw some prices, especially for packing whites, decrease substantially, planting decisions had already been made and would have been thus unaffected by lower prices. This same price to area relationship has likely influenced the decisions to increase area in the fresh chipping sector also.

Finally, Figure 4 below looks at the area changes by region.

Planted area in the Yorkshire and Humber region as well as in the East Midlands continue to show growth. The South East and Wales has also seen some growth. The Scottish area remains much the same as the 2016 season. Most other regions continue to see a decline in area planted. For a deeper look into longer-term trends, look out for future analysis and also our annual GB Potatoes: Market Intelligence publication.

Concluding comments

There continues to be some changes in the top 10, as newer varieties designed to suit today’s needs both at an agronomic and consumer level, continue to increase in popularity. Likewise, some of the biggest “losers” this year are older varieties, which are being replaced by newer alternatives. The packing market has seen another year of increases, with area intended for processing declining once more. This may be due to a reported increase in contracts being offered in the packing market this season as retailers seek a more financially stable supply.

 

  

The total planted area for GB, estimated at 121,000ha*, remains unchanged from the initial area estimate, which is up 4% on last season. This area is based on returns covering more than 90% of registered area and follows the June estimate (based on more than 60% of the registered area). As with all estimates based on a sample, results should be treated with caution as, despite every effort to make the sample as representative as possible, there is a possibility that the planting decisions made by those not included in the sample may differ from those who are included.

 

*The 95% confidence limits on the 2017 estimate are ± 1.8% (total plantings between 118,786 and 123,214 ha).

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