Study market carefully to avoid oversupply, urges Potato Council chairman

Potato Council chairman Allan Stevenson has urged potato growers to study the market carefully before planting this year to ensure that they get adequate returns.

EMR potato trials with drip tape. Image: EMR
EMR potato trials with drip tape. Image: EMR

This is because the 2009-10 market was oversupplied - leading to low crop prices for growers. Potato Council statistics show that in 2009 production rose by 4.2 per cent and, as a result, prices per tonne fell by around 13 per cent.

Stevenson said: "With the planting season gaining momentum, growers should carefully re-assess the strength of the market for the crop they are about to plant, to reduce the risk of continuing speculative tonnages overhanging the market in a year's time.

"I also urge our industry's customers to work closely and supportively with their grower base on fair contracts to try to achieve a more balanced market place for the 2010 crop, so that the whole supply chain can be competitive and profitable.

"The Potato Council is here with tools, advice and information to help all levy payers move to a more profitable new season."

Potato Council interim director Dr Rob Clayton added: "Difficult trading conditions in 2009-10 were exacerbated by over-supply. Speculative plantings, alongside very good growing conditions that produced high yields, resulted in prices that were often substantially below the costs of production.

"Persistent rumours that everyone is cutting back may encourage growers to plant potatoes speculatively again this year.

"Without discipline and a thorough understanding of the market, we could see another year of low prices that could have ruinous consequences for potato growers."

To assist growers and purchasers in their planting decisions, the Potato Council provides robust and reliable market data, including long-term price and area trend analysis.

- View it at www.potato.org.uk/media_files/MIS_reports/ppaug09.pdf


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