Great Britain

Potato production up despite smaller planted area

The total harvest of potatoes is estimated at 5.3 million tonnes, according to AHDB, just below the five year average of 5.4mt.

Planted area also dropped to the third lowest on record following a difficult harvest last season.

Alice Bailey, senior analyst at AHDB, said anecdotal reports suggested yields were variable from farm to farm and ‘even field to field’.

“Yet overall, crops are within farm expectations so it is not surprising that the national yield is in line with recent years.

“We saw planted area drop by two point three per cent this year, yet we are estimating a two point eight per cent rise in production.

“This is based on both a slight increase in yields year-on-year and the fact that a large area was left unharvested last year.

"The unlifted area in 2019 was estimated at 6 per cent, whereas in 2018 less than one per cent was estimated to be left in the ground and we would anticipate similar this year.”

Quality

Ms Bailey added there would be some concerns about quality on the later lifted crop and careful store management would need to be practiced to ensure marketability.

It came as AHDB potatoes strategy director Dr Rob Clayton confirmed the levy board would launch another promotional campaign in reaction to the market condition caused by coronavirus.

A similar campaign in summer reached 5m shoppers via catch-up TV, social media and display advertising.

“While potato sales at retail are up eight to nine per cent overall – analysis from Kantar Worldpannel shows baking potatoes lagging behind at a rise of three per cent,” said Dr Clayton.

He added the campaign would inspire shoppers to eat more ‘healthy and cost effective’ baking potatoes.

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