British Potato Stocks Up 23% Over Previous Season

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) recently announced that potato stock levels in Great Britain for the end of November are estimated at 3.6 million tons, the highest level for this point in the season since 2011/12.

“Last December we estimated production figures to be up by around 15%, at 6.04 million tons, so the increase in stocks held in store has been expected,” commented Amber Cottingham, an AHDB Potatoes analyst.

Maris pipers in storageThe high production in the 2017 growing season was the result of a five per cent increase in planted area to 122,779 hectares, coupled with one of the highest average yields on record (49.3 tons per hectare).

With much of the season still to come, high production figures suggest that it is unlikely that potato supply will be as tight as it was over the previous two seasons.

“We only measure the amount of crop in stores and not the quality, we are aware that there have been storage quality issues reported, which could impact volume of the marketable stocks later in the season,” said Cottingham. “If we compare data taken from our new Potato Data Centre we can see that production last reached the six million ton mark in the 2011/12 season. However, from this point there are two diverging routes depending on your viewpoint. If we take into account the advances that have been made to utilize crops more efficiently in recent years, coupled with improved storage capability, we may see a slowing down of crop use as the season progresses.

“On the other hand, this is very dependent on crop quality and reports suggest there have been quality issues this season due to poor conditions at harvest. This could have affected quality as crops went into store, which could impact wastage in store, and actually lead to a faster drawdown in stocks.”

The latest estimate derives from AHDB grower panel survey data looking at stocks for the end of November 2017. The survey covers grower held stocks only and does not include stocks held by purchasers.