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Price rise in potatoes causes havoc for manufacturers.

Price rise in potatoes causes havoc for manufacturers.

Food manufacturers are being forced to cut back on their use of potatoes, as a weaker British harvest has driven prices up to as much as 224 per cent compared to last year.

The average cost of potatoes has risen from £91 per ton to £296 this year, with the recent bad weather being cited as the main reason for the reduced supply.

Last year the price range for potatoes stood at between £20 a ton to £150 a tonne. That number has now increased to between £70 and £150 per tonne.

McCain Foods has been one of the manufacturers to be hit hardest.

A spokesman from the company told Food Manufacture: "We have been working closely with our UK growers to minimise the impact of this challenging year but, due to widely reported issues with the recent harvest, we have had to source some potatoes from Europe in order to meet consumer demand."

The effect of the rise in prices, fuelled by further imports, has even managed to reach the nation's schools, with Nottinghamshire County Council announcing plans to cut the amount of potatoes being used in school meals, replacing them with noodles and rice.

A council spokesman said the decision had been motivated by quality as well as price, lamenting that many of the potatoes used for roasting and mashing were of a poorer standard than previously.

However, Caroline Evans, a spokeswoman for the Potato Council said that it was important for consumers to help the industry, dismissing any accusations of poor quality.

She said: "You may notice that potatoes are smaller and have more marks on their skins as a result of growing conditions.

"This should not affect their cooking or eating qualities. We hope that everyone will continue to support the industry in a difficult season."

However, producers across the country have still expressed concerns, with Somerset farmer Philip Vaux telling the BBC that his farm only had a few pallets left for sale.

 

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