UK potato growers are facing an uncertain future unless contract prices increase following a 25 per cent drop in production and an increase in costs of 30 per cent.
Around 75 per cent of all potatoes in the UK grown on fixed priced contracts, growers have borne the brunt of the large financial penalty dealt by the unprecedented cold and wet summer conditions.
Yields are down by around 15 per cent and with thousands of acres of crops lost to waterlogged and flooded fields, production has fallen by a quarter.
Tim Papworth, NFU potato forum chairman, said: “I can’t remember a year quite like this. Our members have been working exceptionally hard to try and meet their customers’ requirements, but the reality is that we have exceptional producers in this country suffering significant financial losses that were completely out of their control.”
Mr Papworth warned that many growers were now considering producing cereal crops instead of potatoes due to their higher current value, comparatively simpler supply chain and less intensive labour demands.
“UK growers are passionate about this industry and want to continue to produce the wide range of high quality potatoes that consumers demand. But they cannot sustain losses of this magnitude again,” he added.
“If we are to stop highly skilled growers leaving this industry in favour of more lucrative crops, buyers must increase their contract prices.”