After a tough 2018 season, Scottish potatoes have become increasingly important to maintaining UK supply this year, AHDB statistics have revealed.
Scotland avoided the worst of last year’s drought, with production only slightly below average, and as the season has progressed an increasing proportion of British stocks have been held north of the border.
Previously accounting for a quarter of UK volumes, figures up to the end of March show that Scottish production now makes up 34 per cent of total grower-held stocks.
A combination of heavy demand and issues with ambient storage led to above-average drawdown between November and January in England and Wales. However, drawdown rates in Scotland remained steady, with better quality allowing the potatoes to keep better in stores.
“The start of the season saw massively reduced production across GB, mitigated in part by a large carryover from the 2017 crop,” said AHDB analyst Aidan Wright.
“Scotland has remained fairly stable with large quantities of old crop potatoes being marketed well into the new season. This helped reduce dependence on new crop at the start of the season. The relatively healthy situation north of the border means that Scottish production has been supporting demand down south.
“Since harvest, Scottish potatoes have made a slow and steady exit from grower stores, heading south of the border and over the channel to mainland Europe.
“While the 2019 crop appears to be coming on well at this stage, the reserves of potatoes left in Scotland will go some way to ensuring packing supply across GB for the remainder of the season. Exports continue to storm ahead and the majority of this assumed to be of Scottish supply.”
For more information on potato production and stock levels growers can visit AHDB’s Potato Data Centre.