potatoes supermarket

Core lines of maris piper potatoes across the major multiples saw rises of up to 22% in a month

Some lines of potatoes are up by as much as 22% over the past month, due to weather issues affecting supply, analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer has revealed.

Core lines of maris piper potatoes across the major multiples saw significant rises between w/c 8 January and 12 February, with 2kg bags of the variety increasing by over 10% in Lidl, Waitrose, Aldi, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s British Maris Piper Potatoes (2kg) saw the biggest monthly price hike, up 22.2%, from £1.35 per bag in the second week of January to £1.65 per bag last week.

Tesco also saw rises over 20%, with its equivalent pack increasing by 21.3% in the same period.

The retailer pointed to “challenging growing conditions” prompted by the wet weather and said it was working to support farmers, growers and suppliers, and had broadened its specifications to take more crop.

The increases follow an annual average price hike of 11.5% across the potato category last year, according to NIQ data for The Grocer’s Top Products survey [52 w/e 9 September 2023].

Prices last year were also badly affected by weather issues, with Nationwide Produce group MD Tim O’Malley saying in December the season had been “dreadful”, with annual potato plantings already down 10% and supply expected to be tight due to the fact large proportions of crop were under water. 

NFU Potato Policy Group chair Tim Rooke

Source: NFU

NFU Potato Policy Group chair Tim Rooke

NFU potato and policy chair Tim Rooke this week echoed those warnings, explaining the wet weather was only the most recent challenge for growers. He added the supply issues could be traced back as far as the drought during the summer of 2022.

The drought conditions and subsequent low yields meant potatoes that had initially been destined for storage had been brought to market early. This meant “the crop we are using at the moment potentially has to go maybe two months longer”, he said.

“I think there could potentially be a shortage by the end of the season,” he added.

Rooke said the poor weather had also affected quality, which meant many crops “aren’t good enough to go into a bag to be put in Tesco”.

“Difficult weather conditions have impacted the harvest for potatoes,” said Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the BRC. “However, food retailers are adept at managing disruption and will take all necessary measures to minimise any impact on customers.”

This comes following warnings last month that more imported produce would be required to plug gaps in root vegetable supply, which had been negatively impacted due to weather issues. 

All retailers were approached for comment.