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As restaurants re-opens this week there is an air of optimism that the food service sector will begin to       return to some form of “new-normal”. Demand for early varieties continues as more Queens come onto   the market. Reports from early growers suggest average yields with some frost damage on the earliest  crops.

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Retail demand remains buoyant and as restrictions ease further on June 29th and restaurants can re-open, growers are reminded to supply the peeling market where possible. There is a shortage of good quality packing material and growers with quality stock can command a premium. Demand for early varieties remains very high and it will be two weeks before major volumes of Queens are available.

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With the majority of people still working from home, demand at retail level remains strong. The peeling market is beginning to show some life and we should see a significant lift in demand when restaurants re-open on June 29th. Demand from packers is quite slow at present but this has more to do with using some of their own stocks then any major overhang of stocks in the market.

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The latest potato stocks survey figures reveal that there were 30,000 tonnes of rooster as on 31st May 2020 which is on a par with last season but considerably lower than previous years.

The amounts of other varieties are marginal at this point.

It is predicted with this amount of stock in store at the end of May, there should be enough to supply the market until mid-August, similar to last year. Another factor that needs to be taken into account at this stage is the current market situation. The retail market still remains 15 to 20% above normal, however, the food service has been significantly reduced over the past three months, and although more outlets are opening it will take some time to restore sectorial balance.

Drought conditions are also a key concern. Moisture deficits are higher than at this stage in 2018, particularly in the East and North East where 50% of the potato crop is grown. If this continues, demand and prices will increase for old season as the year progresses.

Potato Stocks May 2019 (tonnes) May 2020(tonnes)
Rooster 25,926 30,000
Kerr Pinks 880 650
GW 110 250
Whites 2515 1600
Total 29,431 32,500

As the country begins to reopen, it is hoped that demand for the foodservice sector will continue to improve. Retail demand remains buoyant and good quality packing stock continues to command a premium.

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