FARMING: Most spuds grown on fixed prices

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With reference to the article last week in the Spalding Guardian: “Bad weather hits potato yields hard”, I would like to thank Mark Tinsley for reminding the general public what a struggle farmers have been having this year with the weather and how it has reduced yields by around 30 per cent.

The only additional fact that didn’t come across was the fact that nationally it is generally recognised that 70 per cent of potatoes are grown on fixed contract prices.

The price is not set by the grower, it is set by the packers and processors who are fiercely competing for the business with the major supermarkets.

Often these contracts only offer at best a break even return, if the potatoes are properly fully costed.

The article suggests that prices have gone from £110 last year to more than £200-a-ton this year. So what’s to moan about?

In reality the contract price will remain the same regardless of a 30 per cent yield reduction. This will mean big losses for the growers which is the point that Tim Papworth eludes to in the section: “NFU urges growers and buyers to talk together”.

It is true that if you are lucky enough to not have signed a contract then indeed a good profit can be made as prices continue to rise.

However, bearing in mind that yields are down by 30 per cent and 70 per cent are contracted then there aren’t going to be many free market potatoes available.

David Matthews

Managing Director

G&D Matthews Ltd

West Pinchbeck