A retreat in UK potato prices will not drag values back to historic lows thanks to a production shortfall which will keep the country a net importer in 2013-14.
Angus Armstrong, chief executive at Produce Investments, the owner of the Greenvale potato packing business, said that a turn benign in UK weather conditions "would indicate a better quality crop" than had been feared after a cold spring and dry summer compromised development.
However, it was "difficult to predict anything other than average yields at best", at a time when sowings have not improved from last year, implying an area of about 121,000 hectares, a figure relatively low by historic standards.
"As a consequence we would expect prices of potatoes to remain strong in the foreseeable future," Mr Armstrong said.
'Prices to remain strong'
Separately, Barrie Clapham, the group's chairman, said that thanks to the prospect of an average yield, and "the need to provide the growers with a commensurate and sustainable return", meant that "procurement prices are likely to remain strong".
The comments come amid some easing in the UK potato price, to £161.23 a tonne last week on the free-buy market, down 1.1% week on week - and well below the £252.44 a tonne a year before, when the impact of unprecedented rains in hurting crops put a large premium on supplies.
However, the price remains well above the £89.78 seen in late September 2011.
Analysts at broker Shore Capital, in a note terming Produce Investments' financial performance "robust", forecast a UK potato crop of about 5.3m tonnes, a significant improvement on last year's figure of 4.5m tonnes, but well below the average of a little over 6m tonnes.
It would also be insufficient to cover UK needs of some 5.7m tonnes a year, implying the need for imports from the Continent.
There too prices, while easing, remain above historical averages, again thanks to some weather setbacks and depressed sowings.
European Union plantings have fallen some 40m hectares to 1.775m hectares this year, according to Germany's DBV farmers' association, which said that Poland was the biggest grower, with more than 350,000 hectares, ahead of Germany and Romania.
Futures in processing potatoes, for April 2014 delivery, stood at E20.30 per 100 kilogrammes on Eurex on Friday, down 1.9% on the day, and below an early-September contract high of E24.00.
However, they remain well above levels for the contract of around E16.00 a year ago, when traders had higher hopes for Europe's 2013 output.
Produce Investments' comments came as the group unveiled a pre-tax profit of £7.6m for the year to late June, up 27% year on year, on revenues up 34% to £206.0m.
The improvement reflected the takeover of potato and daffodil producer Rowe Farming a year ago, but also success in passing on to the group's customers, which include supermarket giant Tesco, the higher costs of procuring crop.
"The group continued to push for increased selling prices across the whole customer base," Mr Clapham said.