Trend for 'grow your own' causes shortage of potatoes

Jamie Oliver-induced "grow your own" fever has caused a potato famine for the nation's gardeners.

Suppliers have enjoyed an increase of up to 20 per cent (HW, 28 February) and garden centres report similar demand. Programmes such as Oliver's gardening and cooking show Jamie at Home and the media focus on vegetables, healthy eating and supermarket food miles - as well as gardeners planting earlier than ever because of climate change - are causing the rise.

Garden & Leisure sundries buyer Mike Cook said: "Seed potato sales are 40 per cent up on last year. Large bags are the biggest sellers, which is leading to a shortage."

Derek Bunker, owner of Altons Garden Centre in Wickford, Essex, said the influence of "local hero" Oliver has driven the demand. "Jamie's from just down the road and I'm a great fan of his. It's because of his 'grow your own' thing that we've sold twice as many seed potatoes this year.

"There has been a shortage of some varieties this year as growers have only grown a certain amount."

Thompson & Morgan e-commerce manager Clare Dixey said: "We're at least 10 per cent up. We have tight stocks on specialist items now, though we're still ok on standard products."

The tightening economy was also helping, she said. "People tend to buy more seeds and crops to save money. Last summer there were reports that fresh produce prices would rise, so people want to grow their own."

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