Good weather conditions across most growing regions in the UK and EU have made this summer a good one for potatoes.
This has led to plentiful supplies across the major producing countries in Western Europe, including the UK. With the potato harvest currently in full swing, prices have fallen sharply on average, down by as much as 75% to £98/tonne from the peak of £390/tonne reached in 2013.
In the UK, despite the rainy days seen at times in August, about 18,000 hectares of crop had been cleared at the end of the month, up 20% from the same period last year.
The planted area is nearly unchanged from last season, at about 121,870 hectares, but crops are generally good. Favourable weather during spring and summer helped the development of the crop, and total yields are expected to be higher than they were last year.
In other Western European countries, potato prices have been cut by as much as 73%, to £54.3/ tonne, despite a delay seen at the start of the harvest due to rain.
There have been significant price falls for Dutch, German and French potatoes as supply outstripped demand in most of the major European producing countries. Potato yields in the EU on average are estimated at 32.3 tonnes per hectare, up 4% year on year.
The Russian import ban on agricultural products including fruit and vegetables from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway is also putting further downward pressure on prices.
Although the import ban has now been lifted for certain products - such as potato seeds - the situation is likely to lead to further decline in fresh potato prices as a result of greater availability of potatoes in the EU market.