Rising costs – impacts on potato growers

Tim Rooke

Tim Rooke

NFU Potato Forum chair

First published: 24 June 2022

A picture of a trailer full of picked potatoes

NFU Potato Forum chair Tim Rooke talks about the particular challenges facing the sector due to rising costs.

The term ‘unprecedented’ has been far too common in the potato sector over recent years. The challenges of Brexit and Covid all seem a bit of a blur, especially now that events in Ukraine, and its knock on impacts, have taken over.

The impacts of this conflict are well known and there isn’t a single sector that isn’t under immense pressure. Potatoes have some additional challenges, such as potato storage costs. Raising store temperatures slightly to cut down on electricity bills isn’t always an option. Perhaps it might be more viable if we weren’t still waiting for the approval of DMN.

We’ve seen the rise in wheat prices, and unless potatoes have a corresponding rise, it is difficult to see how the area of potatoes grown in this country will go in any direction other than down.

Positive initiatives

Despite all this negativity we have seen some organisations take the initiative to address these challenges and help secure British potato production. Most notably we have seen McCain and Walkers making an out of contract extra payment per tonne to help tackle rising input costs. This is a proactive move that has been welcomed by growers and will increase their confidence moving forward.

It does concern me however that these increases are not being reflected consistently across the rest of the sector, and I very much hope that we see other businesses making similar moves in the coming weeks.

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