We all know that summer 2014 was one of our better summers, it was also a good growing season, so good that everything we grew yielded well but unfortunately farmers are now having to pay for that good weather, writes Nicholas Watts.
Unfortunately, farmers are now having to pay for that. We have grown so much produce everything is in surplus and prices have come down on every agricultural product except sugar beet.
We have been steadily selling our potatoes this year at a loss. I think the prices we are being offered, at around £80/ton, are as good as we are going to be able to make this season as there is a large surplus on the continent. Prices in Holland and Belgium are about £15/ton and some are being sent to England. I have heard of farmers in Germany leaving them in the ground to get frosted; in Belgium they were giving potatoes away and in France they were lifting them and putting them in a heap in the corner of the field to rot down, such is the size of the surplus.
Some of the potato pre-packers who actually deliver fresh potatoes to the supermarkets have said they will not require all the potatoes grown for them on contract because they don’t have the orders. The truth is they can buy potatoes a lot cheaper. When the price of the contracted potatoes is lower than the market price they want them all. The potato pre-packers are similar to the milk processors. The more the supermarkets squeeze them, the more they squeeze the growers and still maintain their margin.