Potato stocks held by British growers are 24% down on previous years’ figures at 1.84Mt - 13% down on the five year average.
The estimates from Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) show stock levels for the 2018/19 season to be higher than at the same point in 2012 but only slightly lower than 2016, another tight year for the British potato supply.
Sara Maslowski, senior analyst at AHDB, said: “Given the poor growing season in 2018 these figures are hardly surprising, particularly given the contrast with previous years’ harvest.”
Alongside the figures on stock levels, data on ‘drawdown’ - the rate at which stocks are removed from storage - show a high number of potato stocks removed from growers’ stores during December and January, with 1.13Mt released from farms during this period. Excluding last season, this is the highest rate since 2011/12.
The high rate of drawdown reflects reports of potatoes being removed from storage early.
Sara adds: “The unseasonal weather this winter has meant that some growers struggled with ambient storage due to the higher than usual temperatures. This meant that these stores were cleared earlier than planned.
“The rate of drawdown seen this year contrasts with the lower rate observed between harvest and the end of November last year. This was due to the extended use of the crop from the good growing season in 2017.”