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Poor potato yield hits 2013 pub food prices

By Lesley Foottit , 16-Apr-2013

Lamb Weston Criss Cuts: premium potato product
Lamb Weston Criss Cuts: premium potato product

Pub chefs will be hit by rising potato prices until June due to poor crop yield.

The Potato Council estimates total potato production in Great Britain for the 2012 crop year will be 4.64m tonnes — 24% less than that of 2011, as a result of a smaller acreage given over to the crop and a yield 20% down.

Potatoes are smaller, with dark marks on the skin, making proper storage more important. They should be removed from plastic and stored in a cool, dark place.

Less availability of supplies will influence market price. "We would advise publicans to remain in contact with suppliers to discuss pricing and supply of varieties," said a Potato Council spokesman.

Farm Frites market manager Nic Townsend said: "Frozen chips are still in great demand from all sectors as menus feature [them] heavily.

"There is concern over whether last season’s stored stocks will last until the new season is ready. This has caused the futures pricing to react and we anticipate further rises between now and June.

"End users can maximise profits by minimising waste: cooking to order and using the best cut size for maximum plate coverage."

A Lamb Weston spokesman added: "A per-portion cost increase would be a matter of pence. By using longer chips, chefs can get increased plate coverage, even with a slightly reduced portion." It recommends using different kinds of potato products for differentiation, such as its Criss Cuts product.

St Austell managed pub the Ship in Plymouth, Devon, has negotiated a deal with its supplier for 2013 to avoid price rises.

"We managed to negotiate a set price through our head chef and catering development manager as long as it is our sole provider."

March saw the largest month-on-month rise in the price of fresh food for three years, according to the British Retail Consortium.

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