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Potato industry warns of ‘spudflation’ and shortages due to weather

Published on The Grocer

 

A shortfall of potato supply is expected to continue and prices are likely to rise, leading potato grower Albert Bartlett has warned.

Many varieties are expected to face shortages in the coming months and so-called ‘spudflation’ is expected to take hold as growers deal with the wettest 18 months since 1836.

Albert Bartlett warned there was a potentially “a gap between the stored crop and the new season crop” in the UK caused by a delay to spring planting due to waterlogged fields.

It added that planting in Cornwall only commenced this week, two months behind schedule.

“There will be shortages of some varieties, although customers may instead see that as Jersey potatoes across many of the shelves,” said technical director Paddy Graham-Jones.

“We knew the industry was short due to the limited 2023 crop and we had hoped for a dry spring, and early plantings,” he added. “The industry would normally have a new season early crop ready in June, but with planting now in April it means that won’t be ready.”

This, he warned, was forcing some suppliers to put limits on the orders they could fulfil.

Prices on the rise

Issues with supply were echoed by Scott Walker, CEO of GB Potatoes, who told The Grocer earlier this month that “across the country we would have hoped to have had much more of the crop in the ground by now but planting in May has happened before and by itself is not a disaster”.

He said this, coupled with a “significant reduction in the area of potatoes grown in Great Britain” meant there would be a “tight market”.

Walker called for the government to develop a comprehensive strategy supporting potato production as integral to domestic food security, including financial aid for drainage and addressing water availability for irrigation.

This comes as the Consumer Price Index has shown average prices are now at 84p per kilogram, the highest level since August 2014.

However, prices are expected to rise above £1 per kilo in the next few months, the highest level for the past 30 years.

Read more: Farming Recovery Fund: fit for purpose or ‘complete nonsense’?

A report from The Grocer at the start of the month found potatoes had been hit by shrinkflation following a weather-driven tightening of supply.

Pack sizes of many core potato lines have fallen from 2.5kg to 2kg over the past six months, without any decrease in price, across the traditional big four and Aldi. It meant prices had risen by up to 43.2% per kilo, according to analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer.

Carrots and parsnips impacted

It comes less than a week after warnings from vegetable supplier Nationwide Produce that parsnips and carrots had also been heavily impacted by the weather.

Group MD Tim O’Malley warned that the UK would “soon virtually run out” of parsnips – something he had never known before.

“We’re down to a trickle of UK ’snips due to disastrously poor yields caused by the crop sitting in water,” he explained. “As a nation, we mainly import our ’snips from Spain but they won’t be ready until around mid-May.”

There was a similar issue in carrots, he said, though the UK does have more import options, something it was utilising already.

 

Published on The Grocer, 26th April 2024

https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/sourcing/potato-industry-warns-of-spudflation-and-shortages/690737.article