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Spud Surge: Potato Prices Peel Upwards as UK Storms Soak the Soil

UK aficionados of potatoes are witnessing significant price surges for their beloved chips, mash, roasties, and crisps, with some varieties experiencing increases of up to 22% in just over a month.

This escalation is attributed to recent storms that have left fields sodden, affecting the supply of the nation's most popular and versatile potato, the Maris Piper. Prices for these potatoes have risen by more than 10% in supermarkets such as Lidl, Waitrose, Aldi, Tesco, and Sainsbury's.

Sainsbury's, for instance, has seen its 2kg bags of British Maris Piper Potatoes jump by 22.2%, from £1.35 to £1.65 in a matter of weeks. Tesco has also reported a significant price increase, with its equivalent pack going up by 21.3% during the same timeframe, as per The Grocer's analysis of Assosia's price data.

The UK's largest supermarket chain has cited "challenging growing conditions" due to the wet weather as the cause for these hikes. In response, it has lowered its size and shape standards to include potatoes that would otherwise not make it to market.

The situation mirrors last year's difficulties, which were also weather-related. Tim O'Malley, Nationwide Produce group's managing director, described the previous season as "dreadful".

Tim Rooke, NFU potato and policy chairman, highlighted the impact of extreme weather conditions, from droughts to downpours, dating back to the summer of 2022.

These conditions have led to supply shortages, forcing early market entry for potatoes initially intended for storage. Rooke expressed concerns over potential shortages towards the season's end.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), acknowledged the impact of adverse weather on potato harvests.

He assured, however, that food retailers are well-equipped to manage such disruptions and will take all necessary steps to minimise customer impact.

The weather extremes have not only affected potatoes but other UK-grown vegetable crops as well, leading to increased imports from Europe.


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