Packing markets remain the busier outlet


08 February 2021
Packing markets remain the busier outlet

THE packing sector has the dominant source of demand for potatoes in the UK over the past week, according to latest figures released by the AHDB.

Although traded volumes differ significantly, Maris Piper is obtaining a premium over Whites in both the packing and processing sectors.

The processing and chipping trade are both still battling with the closure of much of the hospitality industry. Prices have remained stable, but volumes are still disappointing.

Much of the demand in packing markets is still being covered by contracted material but there is a steady demand for free-buy supply, keeping prices relatively stable week-on-week. Maris Piper continues to gain a premium over Whites in both England and Scotland.
There have been limited reports of free-buy Salad potatoes moving this week, although contracted material is moving off-farm.

Trade remains slow for the bagging sector, particularly into fish and chip shops.

With lockdown measures still in place, coupled with usual seasonal trends, reduced trade is not unexpected. However, this double whammy appears to be drawing trade back more than usual for the time of year, according to the AHDB analysts. Prices have remained stable, though volumes are described as “very poor”.

Government announcements, due later this month, are hoped to boost the public’s confidence, potentially resulting in increased footfall. This could help to bring back some fish and chip shop trade.

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Bagged potatoes into farm shops seem to have some demand trickling along, but are not seeing bolstered sales like the first lockdown in March 2020.

Processing trade continues at a steady pace. With no developments in the education or hospitality sector reopening there is limited demand for processing supplies. The staggered return of pupils in Scotland potentially later this month, could bring forth some demand. Prices have remained flat from the previous week, with Maris Piper pricing higher than processing Whites.

Some export trade has been reported to the Canary Islands, but insufficient quotes mean we are unable to report any prices. This trade does seem to have slowed though with some continued shipping issues and also reduced tourist trade on the islands.

Trade with Belgium is also talked of now, with hopes that some of the January port issues have been overcome. Nevertheless, this does still pose some threat to the smooth running of the trade.
Sales into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are maintained. Paperwork issues following the end of the transition period seem to be ironed out now, although many are still finding it is not always straightforward.

Photo: Maris Piper by Sainsbury's

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