As the nights draw in, demand for potatoes often rises as people typically eat more tatties in the colder months.
However some packers are still using crop from 2021 which is helping to clear out any backlog, but growers are concerned that the quality to the consumer might dip with 12-month old potatoes.
One English grower group is believed to still have 4000t still in storage which is dampening demand for new crop. The cost of old crop is being traded between £80/t and £120/t. Buyers are estimating the 2022 yield will be smaller so don’t want to waste any potatoes.
Top quality table potatoes can command over £230/t whilst the bulk of the UK crop will be traded for between £190 to £250/t depending on variety and quality. This is typically around £50/t more than farmers were getting paid in 2021 and it doesn’t look to be jumping up quickly, with the futures price for April next year at around £247/t.
Unfortunately the cost of production has risen by @ 30% to over £6000 per hectare, which is a faster rise than the farmgate. The cost and risk in the potato market will make many farmers consider carefully the area planted, with lower costs and less risk being predicted for fields sown in cereals.
Many of Scotland’s potato growing family farms will remember the prices received in 1976 when a hot dry summer cut yields and pushed prices through the roof. Whilst the weather might have been the same in 2022, technology for storing potatoes means that the same record prices are unlikely to happen again.
So far contracts and prices for growing potatoes next year are struggling to find farmers willing to sign up. The volatility in the market place and unpredictable events around the world is making growers hesitant to sign on the dotted line for next year’s crop harvest, as they could leave themselves exposed to significant changes in costs.