Potato growers selling under contract to one of the UK's largest processors, McCain, are to get a 31% contract indexation increase from January 31.
Worth £35m, this aims to help McCain's 250 potato growers manage what has become an increasingly challenging environment they operate in. This is further to last year’s contract price increase of 15% and a supplementary £5m energy support package, totalling a £50m investment in two years.
In 2007, McCain launched its 'indexation model' to measure changes in the cost of production to ensure it paid a fair contract price to growers and this year, in partnership with an agri-business consultant, the processor reviewed next season’s contract pricing and has committed to the 31% increase.
Other areas of support announced by McCain include a supplementary energy support package. For the current season, it has pledged to pay a supplement to those who’ve had to renew electricity contracts, or are paying variable rates.
Through this investment commitment and wider business initiatives, McCain said it was taking the necessary steps to support the future of UK potato farming in the face of numerous issues. Environmental threats such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods, coupled with increases in the prices of fertiliser and energy, had resulted in unprecedented on-farm inflation for potato growers.
Vice-president of agriculture at McCain GB, James Young, said: "The combination of all these factors mean that they have experienced one of the toughest growing seasons in the last 40 years. As the largest purchaser of British potatoes, we pride ourselves on our strong partnerships with our 250 growers and are committed to helping them overcome these challenges.
"However, more work needs to be done collaboratively to ensure the long-term viability of potato growing in the UK. We are committed to working with farmers, customers, industry leadership groups and the government to create a sustainable future for years to come.”
Ben Sykes, a Yorkshire potato farmer who supplies McCain, said the challenge of growing potatoes in a changing climate was compounded last year by significant inflation in agricultural inputs.
"McCain’s indexation model has acknowledged these pressures for the 2023 season," he explained. "This allows us to continue to focus on producing quality crops for the business whilst we strive to be resilient, financially viable and environmentally sustainable for the years to come.”