Potato stocks hit a six-year high at the end of November last year, rising 23 per cent on 2016, according AHDB survey data.
The volume of potatoes held in store reached its highest level for that time of year since 2011/12, following high production in the 2017 growing season.
Amber Cottingham, analyst for AHDB Potatoes, said: “Last December we estimated the GB production figures to be up by around 15 per cent, at 6.04 million tonnes, so the increase in stocks held in store has been expected.”
Strong production in the 2017 season was the result of a five per cent increase in planted area to 122,779 hectares, coupled with one of the highest average yields on record: 49.3t/ha.
With much of the season still to come, high production figures suggest it is unlikely potato supply will be as tight as it was in the past two seasons, however Cottingham urged caution.
“We only measure the amount of crop in stores and not the quality,” she said. “We are aware that there have been storage quality issues reported, which could impact volume of the marketable stocks later in the season.”
Despite this, she said that thanks to advances in crop utilisation and improved storage capability, “we may see a slowing down of crop use as the season progresses”.
The latest AHDB estimate derives from the body’s grower panel survey data, which covers grower-held stocks only and does not include stocks held by purchasers. The full survey can be found here.