Potato Weekly - 03 April 2020

Friday, 3 April 2020

At a glance

  • Free buy trade has really quietened this week for all sectors.
  • Retail demand has lessened slightly this week, with the requirement for free buy supplies minimal. Anecdotally it is said that both supermarkets and packers may have overbought last week and are still working through supplies this week.
  • Trade in the chipping market is at almost a complete standstill as most chip shops remain closed across the UK.
  • Another week of good weather nationwide has meant that for many, planting of potatoes has continued at pace. Soil conditions are currently “ideal” in most parts of the country, although night time temperatures are still low.
  • The uncertainty of how long certain markets may be unavailable is hanging over some growers who are trying to make planting decisions.

Market commentary

  • There could be a change in shopper behaviour going forward as the government pushes for people to shop only when essential, and less often at that. This could result in a drop in shopper frequency, but potentially a rise in basket size.
  • There is some optimism surrounding the requirement for packing material going forward to remain relatively firm, but with more potatoes potentially available that were originally destined for other uses, prices could see pressure.
  • With the majority of chip shops currently closed, sales of chipping material are extremely limited. The National Federation of Fish Fryers announced last week that they were advising all shops to close aside from businesses that were able to safely operate a delivery service in line with government guidelines and advice. The numbers of chip shops offering these services is currently limited. Overall trade largely at a standstill, with no quotes received for material sold for frying at all this week.
  • There have again been some reports of chipping material moving through other sales avenues, but this has been very limited.
  • Sales of bagged ware have also considerably dropped off this week. There are still some sales occurring direct from farm but these are reportedly quiet too. Those shoppers who opted for 25kg bags in the past couple of weeks are likely well stocked still and have not needed to re-purchase yet.
  • Trade in peeling material was very limited this week as the foodservice shutdown limited demand. Reportedly material for French fries is in a similar situation, with a boost in retail sales doing little to offset such a massive loss in purchases.
  • There are still concerns surrounding staff in processing factories and the potential for staff to have to self-isolate. Hygiene protocols are strict on sites as a matter of course, but there is the potential for a lack of staff available to work.

Aidan Wright


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