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UK Potato Processors’ Association responds to Government announcement of support for farmers during dry weather

Issued 2 August 2018

UK potato processors (crisp and French fry manufacturers) have welcomed the Government’s commitment, in reaction to the current hot and arid weather conditions, to allow flexibility for farmers in the application of the rules on water abstraction[i].

Whilst this is an important step, this will not in itself resolve the issue. The reality is that the UK potato processing sector faces significant challenges this year, resulting from the current weather conditions, and especially as a result of the 10 consecutive days in July where recorded temperatures rose above 30⁰C.

Whilst it is too early to give a definitive view of the impact on the yield and size of this year’s crop, from the recently published AHDB figures on area planting[ii] it is clear that volumes will be significantly lower than average, and it is extremely likely that there will be serious issues in terms of availability of potatoes that are suitable for processing.

We believe that there will be an impact on potato size, dry matter and potentially an increase in defects such as cracking and bruising. It is also likely that there will be less crop going into storage, and not all stored crops will be of optimum quality. This will mean that impacts for UK potato processors will last well into the first half of 2019.

Similar weather conditions have been observed across mainland Europe, and it will limit surplus materials available for import.  The lack of a definitive position on potato and potato seed importation, post-EU exit on 29 March 2019 only adds to the challenges that we face.

UK potato processors will of course take a pragmatic and flexible approach wherever possible, but we are limited to a certain extent by legislation and physical characteristics of specific varieties used for crisps and French fry production.”

[i] Environment Agency, 1 August 2018, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-agency-announces-support-for-farmers-during-dry-weather

[ii] https://potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/news/potato-plantings-down-three-cent-amid-extreme-weather-conditions AHDB Potatoes is a division of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, and is committed to making the potato industry more competitive and sustainable through factual, evidence-based advice, information and activity. It is established via the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008 (Statutory Instrument). AHDB Potatoes is funded from the AHDB potato levy which is ring fenced to be used for the benefit of potato levy payers https://potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/

Notes for editors

  1. The Potato Processors’ Association Ltd (PPA, ppauk.org) is the trade association for the UK manufacturers of frozen chips and potato products, potato crisps, potato based snack products and dehydrated potato. We work through an alliance of Trade Associations, incorporating the Frozen and Chilled Potato Processors’ Association (FCPPA) and the producers of potato crisps and snacks (SNACMA, snacma.org.uk).
  2. Crisps, frozen and chilled potato products, provide 61% of the value to the potato market (Kantar) and the consumer sales value (retail and foodservice) amounted to almost £4 billion in 2014.
  3. Collectively PPA members are the largest customers for GB potatoes, processing approximately 1.7 million tonnes of potatoes annually.
  4. >11,740 people in employment throughout our sector. Other jobs dependent on our supply chains are likely to double this total.

More information

Contact: Andrew Curtis, Director General, Potato Processors’ Association Ltd at: andrew@ppauk.organdrew@snacma.org.uk or  +44 (0)70 3914 7088.