Potato Weekly - 03 July 2020

Friday, 3 July 2020

At a glance

  • Coronavirus continues to impede on demand across all sectors, with mixed reviews on what the effect the reopening of pubs and restaurants will have this weekend.
  • Many old-crop contracts are being cleared up in the packing market and new-crop potato demand is also covered mostly on contract.
  • Wet weather has continued to green crops up, but blight is becoming a concern for some due to showery, warm conditions.
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Alice Bailey

Senior Analyst Potatoes

Market commentary 

Earlies

  • Increased lifting of Accord for the chipping market has been reported this week, although many crops are still a little immature. Most reports suggest that yields of Accord are down, with lower tuber numbers the cause.
  • Demand remains lethargic for free-buy new-crop. It seems retailers are generally running off mostly contracted supply and chip shops generally experiencing quiet trade.
  • Anecdotally there are reports of increased interest in new-crop chipping material. This comes as good quality, easy to work old-crop chipping material is becoming scarce. However, the perception of lots of remaining old-crop is pressuring prices.
  • Accord this week has dropped, with highs of around £320/t being achieved at the beginning of the week in the South.
    • Mid-week across the country, prices of £250-£280/t were common for Accord.
    • However, this slipped further in the West to £200-£230/t.
    • Competition in the chipping trade is tough, as more new-crop is lifted and fresh chip demand remains stagnant.
  • There is a slight increase in Maris Peer available on the free-buy market this week, but demand is lacking a touch.
    • Farm gate prices vary from around £300/t to £400/t depending on the end market available to the grower.
    • In the South, generally prices are a little higher and earlier in the week reached in the region of £500/t for washed and graded cartons heading into the wholesale markets.
  • There are whispers of early Maris Piper being lifted this week in the East, but at token levels.
  • The rain, received in varying levels, may delay lifting for some to avoid muddy potatoes.

Packing

  • Free-buy packing trade remains at low volumes.
  • Good quality old-crop packing material is still able to reach a premium, but demand is generally flat.

Bags

  • Bags trade has continued to be “uninspiring”.
  • The perception that there is a lot of old-crop around is dragging new-crop prices down. However, good quality old-crop is actually described as being relatively tight and interest in new-crop is arising.
  • With the potential for pub trade to take custom from the chip shops, demand has been described as slow as buyers don’t want to be sat on stocks this week.

Processing

  • Old-crop contracts are still being utilised wherever possible, limiting the demand for free-buy supply.
  • Until food-service and catering returns to normal, this is likely to be a continued theme. Unfortunately in the short to medium term these demand corridors are unlikely to return to normal, but will hopefully move in the right direction.

Exports

  • Exports to Ireland are continuing, but remain in minimal volumes.

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