Britain's potato stocks posted a healthy 25% recovery over
the past year, reversing the drop recorded in 2012 as farmers were
hampered by harsh weather conditions.
Latest estimates showed that British potato growers
stocks totalled 3.3m tonnes at the end of November 2013, a rise of 25% from the
2.7m tonnes a year before.
The rise was a reflection of a much stronger harvest,
"with production in 2013 currently estimated up 21% from 2012," the UK's official Potato
Council bureau reported, adding the poor 2012 crop was "generally viewed as an
extremely unusual year".
Potato production last year recovered to 5.5m tonnes, having
posted a 24% reduction in 2012 to 4.64m tonnes.
Mixed results in
By contrast the picture in northern Europe suggests farmers
are struggling in contrast to the stronger picture in the UK.
The total German potato harvest was one of the lowest in
Production from the Lower Saxony region was down 10.9% while
production in the country totalled 9m-9.5m tonnes, as flooding in areas of
southern Germany damaged crops, more than negating a small expansion of
Germany's potato crop area
Variable conditions have been witness across the region with
early crops in Belgium failing to benefit from late rains. The French Ministry of Agriculture maintains
its view production would increase by 11% however.
Prices reflect the differing conditions.
The prices of processing potatoes in Germany stood last week
at the equivalent of £112-128 a tonne, little change from early December,
although down from year-ago levels around £169-186 a tonne.
Reported prices for processing potatoes were marginally
lower Belgium, France and the Netherlands compared with early-December. However, prices remain lower than those seen
at the start of the previous quarter.
In France, the price is down 23% to £98 a tonne, with a
similar decline in Belgian prices.
'Putting hold on
Weather problems continue hamper British farmers
Heavy rain fall in December and
early January have caused flooding as well as rot issues with stored
crops. While in some regions mild
weather has seen some stocks "starting to break dormancy", the council said.
The extension of the wet conditions has plagued farmers with
early-sown crops in 2014 too, in the south west of England, where a warmer
climate and sandy soils encourage farmers to cash in on higher-priced
"The wet weather has put a hold on planting in the
South and previously planted crops covered with polythene have retained their
covers, despite some gale force winds," the council said.
UK prices averaged £153.98 a tonne last week, down 37% year on year but showing an upward short-term trend, the council said.