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UK potato stocks at end of Jan higher than last year

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AHDB estimates suggest that grower-held potato stocks at the end of January 2020 were 15 per cent higher than the same time in 2019 at 2.13 million tonnes. The figure is three per cent higher than the five-year average figure and comes despite November 2019 stock estimates being at the lowest level since 2012.

According to the levy body, the rate of drawdown slowed considerably during December and January, with just 58 per cent of this season’s production having left grower’s stores by the end of January.

AHDB says there may be several reasons for the slowdown in crop movement, including early movement due to quality issues (as shown in the November figures), and the fact that a large proportion of the crop may have been moved off the field due to the difficult and late harvest season.

“Combined with a potential reluctance to sell stored material on expected market tightness and upward price movement, this has reduced drawdown of storage held material,” reported AHDB. “The tonnage of potatoes left in store as of January is now in line with previous years due to a reduced overall stock drawdown. There are important implications on a sector basis especially in the more free-buy focused sectors of bags and packing.

“Unless drawdown rates so far in 2020 have shifted significantly from historical norms, then current stock levels are likely to have remained above average, again reducing the ability for the free-buy market to shift significantly higher.”

Photo credit: AHDB

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