Brits ate nearly 8% fewer fresh potatoes in 2013 than in 2012, as soaring retail prices and increased demand for tinned and convenience formats took their toll.

Although the total value of the fresh potato category went up 21.5% to £1.4bn in 2013, this was purely the result of higher prices at the tills - consumption plummeted, with volumes down 7.9% year on year to 1.5 million tonnes [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 8 December 2013].

At the same time, volume sales of tinned potatoes soared 19.2% year on year to 18,393 tonnes, and reconstituted and other convenience potato products also fared well, with volumes up 9.1% year on year.

The figures, published through the Potato Council, highlight the continuing impact of 2012 and 2013’s poor weather, which caused major disruption to potato growers in the UK and Europe and led to the smallest EU harvest since 2006.

Wholesale and retail prices for fresh potatoes soared in response, causing households to cut back on their spud purchases.

The trend had continuing in the most recent 12-week period, said the Potato Council.

“Volumes dipped a little further, due to a combination of fewer households buying potatoes and remaining shoppers buying less frequently and buying less per trip,” it said.

However, the prospects for this season’s potato crop are already looking much better. The Potato Council said this week current stocks were up 25% on this time last year, and price rises had started to slow.