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Shifts in potato varieties planted in Great Britain

Shifts in potato varieties planted in Great Britain

Year on Year area change (2018 vs 2017) for the top ten potato varieties grown in Great Britain (Courtesy: AHDB Potatoes)

November 1, 2018
The revised estimate for the total 2018 potato planted area in Great Britain is 117.3Kha, down 4.4% from the 2017 area of 122.8Kha.

The updated value is 2.1Kha below the first August estimate (119.4Kha).

The revised estimate represents the GB area covered by over 90% of producers, and reflects both lasts years high production and challenging market conditions, coupled with the difficulties in planting in spring. Despite the fall in the overall GB area, there continues to be change within the sector.

Potato Varieties planted in Great Britain this year

Movement was seen within the top 10 potato varieties this year, although the top three most widely grown varieties have retained their position.

(Click to enlarge)

Top ten potato varieties grown in Great Britain in 2018 (Courtesy: AHDB Potatoes)

Maris Piper remains the most popular variety, although the area has undergone a third consecutive year of decline it is forecast to be down 8.4% year on year, to 15.1Kha.

The traditional all-round variety is losing ground as change is being seen in the kitchen table white packing market.

Maris Piper remains by far the most popular variety in Great Britain, although the area has undergone a third consecutive year of decline

Additionally, the longer term trend for a declining Maris Piper area likely reflects changes in the incentives for growers.

Growers could be opting to choose to grow on contract for specific sectors rather than choosing a more versatile variety such as Maris Piper. Another, and perhaps more influential, reason could relate to agronomic factors, with Maris Piper not performing as well in relation to scab and rots as newer, more resistant, varieties.

Nectar climbed two places to become the fourth most widely grown potato variety in Great Britain, rising 500 ha on the year to 3700 ha. Positive reports about the yield potential and packing market demand for Nectar are likely to have driven the area increase.

The potato variety Nectar climbed two places to become the fourth most widely grown potato variety in Great Britain

Conversely, in the packing sector, Harmony recorded the largest year on year decline in area, declining by over 50% on the year. Previously, Harmony had been a top 20 variety by area. However, in 2018 Harmony lost ground to other packing varieties with preferential qualities.

A long term trend developing has been a shift in demand for contracted and specialised crisping and French fry varieties.

The most widely grown crisping variety in GB remains Lady Rosetta, despite recording a fifth consecutive year of decline.

Other crisping varieties, such as Taurus, have seen an increase during this period. This signals a shift in varietal preferences, as the retail market looks for innovation and premium products requiring different characteristics.

Additionally, purchasing behaviour has been shifting, in the crisping market there has been a gaining popularity for crops sold off the field over short term storage.

Royal, a popular variety for the contracted French fries market has seen one of largest rises on the year

Royal, a popular variety for the contracted French fries market has seen one of largest rises on the year, up 500 ha to enter the top 10 at 2900 ha.

Its rising popularity is linked to reportedly better agronomic qualities over rival frying varieties.
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AHDB Potatoes (formerly known as Potato Council) is a public body working on behalf of potato growers and purchasers to promote British potatoes.