GB planted potato area by variety and sector 2016

Friday, 19 August 2016

The total 2016 planted area for GB, estimated at 116,000ha*, remains unchanged from the initial area estimate, up 4% on last season. This area update has been made following the incorporation of additional data, and is based on returns covering 90% of producers by area. The July estimate was based on 66% of registered area. As with all estimates based on a sample, results should be treated with caution as, despite every effort to make the sample as representative as possible, there is a possibility that the planting decisions made by those not included in the sample may differ from those who are included.

GB planted potato area by variety 2016


The movers and shakers

Despite strong gains for some of the newer varieties, Maris Piper continues to hold the number one spot with the largest area grown of all varieties and also with the largest increase in area on the previous year. As a versatile variety, this could be related to the higher area planted intended for both the chipping and packing markets (see below).

New entrants to the top ten are Taurus (crisping, +32%) and Royal (processing, +38%), both having increased planted areas by more than 500ha compared to 2015. Similar strong gains were made by Brooke (crisping, +114%) and Nectar (packing, +49%), though these remain outside the top ten. These are all newer varieties which seem to be proving popular with both purchasers and growers.

Lady Rosetta (crisping) has had the largest area decrease this year, down by close to 1,000ha, followed by Hermes (crisping), Harmony (packing), Estima (packing) and Markies (processing/chipping). All of these varieties have been on a declining trend for the past few years. Packing, processing and crisping varieties all show up both in those making the strongest gains as well as those falling the most, suggesting switching into the newer varieties in these sectors.

GB planted potato area by sector 2019

Below, we look at what the changes mean for area by intended market sector. The only market sector to lose a significant share of area is the ‘other ware’ category.  Therefore, the intended market sector has been disclosed by growers for a greater area than for previous years.  This makes it hard to know whether a change in market sector area is driven by a genuine change in varieties planted, or whether these varieties had previously been allocated to the ‘other ware’ category. As such, comparisons to previous years need to be treated with some caution. This category has declined by some 3,000ha this season, which, could affect the direction of change compared to last year.

Bearing all this in mind, this season we have seen area intended for packing appear to recover to 43,000ha from 38,000ha in 2015, slightly up on the 2014 season. Last year, the largest declines in planted area seemed to come from the packing sector with roughly an 11% decline. The increase in area grown intended for packing this year is unsurprising considering the high prices achieved later on in 2015/16 for best quality whites and baking potatoes.

A large percentage increase in plantings this year also seems to have come for the fresh chipping sector, up 9% to the highest area since 2013. Similar to the packing sector, prices for fresh chipping supplies also rose dramatically towards the end of 2015/16 which would incentivise planting of these varieties. The seed potato area also appears to have increased by 13% to c.17,000ha.

Movements in other sectors have been smaller, with processing increasing and fresh bags decreasing slightly.

Concluding comments

The second estimate of GB potato plantings for 2016 remains at 116,000ha, with plantings intended for packing, seed and fresh chipping showing the strongest growth. Among individual varieties, Maris Piper both retains the top spot and has the largest increase in area. Other than this, the next largest increases all came from newer, specialist varieties, as has been the case in the past few years.

Although the planted area is up this season, it won’t be clear whether we will be in a similar supply situation as 2015, until a production estimate is produced following harvest later in the year. It is still too early to be able to predict yields, with around two months still to go before the majority of the GB crop is harvested. Given the area planted and variation in yields, production could still feasibly go either way compared to last year.


*Statistical 95% confidence limits for the estimate are ±0.5%, implying that the final figure for 2016 could lie anywhere in the range from 115,500 to 116,500 ha.

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