Potato processor McCain has announced new investment worth £35m for its farmers by committing to a 31% contract indexation increase.
The investment aims to help McCain's 250 potato growers manage the increasingly challenging environment they operate in, the firm said today (31 January).
This is further to last year’s contract price increase of 15% and a supplementary £5m energy support package, totalling a £50m investment in two years.
In 2007, McCain launched the Indexation Model method which measures changes in the cost of production to ensure fair contract pricing for growers.
In partnership with an agri-business consultant, the processor has reviewed next season’s contract pricing and has committed to a 31% indexation.
Other areas of support announced by McCain include a supplementary energy support package. For the current season, it has pledged to pay a supplement to those who’ve had to renew electricity contracts or are paying variable rates.
Through this investment commitment and wider business initiatives, McCain said it was taking the necessary steps to support the future of UK potato farming in the face of numerous issues.
Environmental threats such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods, coupled increases in prices for fertiliser and energy costs, have resulted in unprecedented on-farm inflation for potato growers.
James Young, vice president of agriculture at McCain GB, said growers had been hit hard in the last couple of years and were facing a myriad of unprecedented challenges.
"The combination of all these factors mean that they have experienced one of the toughest growing seasons in the last 40 years," he said.
“As the largest purchaser of British potatoes, we pride ourselves on our strong partnerships with our 250 growers and are committed to helping them overcome these challenges.
"However, more work needs to be done collaboratively to ensure the long-term viability of potato growing in the UK.
"We are committed to working with farmers, customers, industry leadership groups and the government to create a sustainable future for years to come.”
Ben Sykes, a Yorkshire potato farmer who supplies McCain, said the challenge of growing potatoes in a changing climate was compounded last year by significant inflation in agricultural inputs.
"McCain’s indexation model has acknowledged these pressures for the 2023 season," he explained.
"This allows us to continue to focus on producing quality crops for the business whilst we strive to be resilient, financially viable and environmentally sustainable for the years to come.”