The British Potato Trade Association has said the recent heatwave has compromised the ‘yield and quality’ of potato crops. As a result, it warns that the price of chips is likely to increase.
North Yorkshire grower John Bannister said his crop was down 40%, with the next harvest “looking horrendous”. He added, “A potato is over 80% water, so it’s not hard to see why there’s a problem given the dry conditions. The long-range forecast is not looking great either. If there is no rain soon, we will be in a very sorry state.”
A BPTA spokesman said southern and eastern areas of Britain were currently experiencing the worst growing conditions linked to the record-breaking temperatures. “Now is a crucial time for potato growers. If it stays dry much longer, we are looking at seriously reduced yields,” they said.
Although many abstraction licences have been withdrawn due to low river flows – preventing many growers from irrigating crops – a number of others in the industry say that crops which have received irrigation look “fantastic” and that they may produce higher yields than last year. “It will be a year of two different crops,” one told HortNews.
Andrew Crook, president of the Leeds-based National Federation of Fish Friers, told BBC News that the price of fish and chips would increase as a result of reduced yields. “With fish at the price it is, combined with VAT at 20%, our sector cannot afford any further price increases caused by potato shortages, so the cost of fish and chips will have to further increase,” he said.