There have been numerous articles and coverage in the media recently regarding the challenges this potato season has presented to British farming and the wider industry.
It is important we highlight that this season has seen the lowest plantings in living memory due to significant increases in production costs. By June and July it was obvious that yields were going to be low due to the delayed planting season, caused by constant rainfall during the month of April.
Whilst the harvesting season got off to a good start during August and September, we have seen unprecedented amounts of rain during the main harvesting season with triple the amount of rain falling during this period.
Extensive areas have been flooded and will not be harvested – currently this figure is estimated to be between 10 -15% of the national crop. Many of the potatoes which have been harvested during this wet period are starting to rot, because they have sat in saturated soils for too long a period and the wastage levels are twice those expected at this time of the year.
That said, Four Seasons have good volumes of contracted potatoes to ensure availability to our customers.
Together with the increased growing costs verses last year, the recent issues highlighted above will continue to put significant pressure on prices over the coming months.
We are working hard to support our growers and customer partners as much as possible in respect of returns to farm and sales prices. Please remember that current estimates show that the UK is likely to produce circa 4.4 million tonnes of potatoes this season, the lowest level on record. Four Seasons continues to work tirelessly in supporting our customers and growers during these difficult times. Our focus on both quality and availability remains our number one priority.