Scots are eating 25% less potato than they did 10 years ago, causing concern among nutritionists and politicians alike.

The findings were published last week in a review of Scotland's Dietary Action Plan, chaired by Tim Lang, who declared that the £100m 10-year project had failed on many key aims.

As well as failing to boost fruit and veg consumption beyond its 1995 average of 250g a day - approximately three helpings - the plan also missed its target for potato consumption.

Instead of raising

consumption of fresh potato by a quarter to 125g

a week, average intake has actually fallen to 68g.

Health minister Andy Kerr admitted that much remained to be done to change Scotland's culture of poor eating habits, all the more so because it appeared from the survey that more deprived families were eating more fresh potatoes. Among wealthier people, consumption only averaged 55g a week.

Denis Alder at the British Potato Council warned that it was only a small survey, which could prove inaccurate. But he said that the UK-wide trend was one of light decline in individual potato consumption.

"Over the past 10 years, potato consumption has declined by 1% or 2% per capita. Overall, though, it's gone up because of population increase.

"In 1995 to 2000 there was a decline in fresh potato consumption and an increase in processed. But over the past three years that trend has been reversed so that fresh is back up again.

"If people are eating less in Scotland then we must be eating more in England."

The fall in fresh potato production corresponds in part to a rise in processed potato sales. In theory that is an added-value market that should be good news for farmers, but the returns rarely reach the farmgate.

The supply situation in Scotland is extremely tight and the squeeze from the big four means that the normal rules of supply and demand are skewed.