Roast potatoes

Maris piper potatoes have seen average price rises of 35% since October 2021.

The price of own-label maris piper potatoes has risen over the past week, according to The Grocer Key Value Items tracker, amid warnings of further hikes to come.

Analysis of Assosia data for the KVI (below) shows a 2.5kg bag of own-label maris piper potatoes climbed 5p (3%) to £1.70 on 14 October in Tesco, followed quickly by Aldi on 16 October, Sainsbury’s on 17 October and Lidl on 19 October.

The price of the line was up 14% year on year in Aldi, Lidl and Tesco, and 7% up in Sainsbury’s, following the increases.

The data also showed the average price of potatoes, based on 98 lines available in the mults, saw an average price hike of 9% year on year, and by 22% over two years.

And when it came to maris pipers, across eight lines the average price rise was 10%, or 35% over two years.

The price hikes come as growers warned earlier this month that production levels had declined by up to 20% on potatoes, equating to nearly a million tonnes a year less.

The dwindling supply was triggered by growers leaving the industry due to soaring costs and lack of returns, British Growers Association CEO Jack Ward said.

Maris piper potatoes normally fetch a higher price than white potatoes and the premium variety had seen particular production issues this year, according to Harry Campbell, fruit & vegetable analyst at Mintec.

“The premium is quite high because there are less of them available on the market,” said Campbell.

Maris piper potatoes are less hardy than some varieties of potato, making them more susceptible to production issues. According to Branston field technical advisor Andrew Blair, the maris piper needs the best land, as well as a decent level of nutrition and irrigation to be successful.

Storm Babet has also had an impact on potato production in Scotland, said Campbell, which could lead to further price hikes down the line.

Between 20% and 30% of the potato crop in Scotland remains unharvested, most of which is maris piper, he added.

“The crops still in the ground are going to be quite heavily impacted by the rain and wet weather and hard to get out of the ground”, he said. “Prices are expected to be even higher going forward.”

Wholesale prices of English maris piper potatoes are up 77.5% in the 52 weeks to 18 October to £355 per tonne, while white potato prices are up only 4.5% in a year [Mintec].

The two-year picture is even more striking, with maris piper prices up 153.6%, and white potatoes up 155.6% in the 104 weeks to 18 October.

Earlier this month, The Grocer reported that oven chips were up 22% year on year in the wake of the decline in potato production.