Published online: Sep 05, 2011 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting
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Potato growers in Pembrokeshire, England, are facing up to their lowest returns for years after the fine spring meant a bumper early crop from eastern England hitting the marketplace just as the season peaks for Welsh growers.

One of the major buyers described the situation as "a low-price season" all round, with matters made worse by reduced consumer demand. The expected poor returns add to the problems of a struggling industry which has recently seen more and more growers leaving. But growers say they are fighting back and are optimistic about the future.

"We have cleared a lot of Pembrokeshire potatoes as we do every year and we try our best to find a market for them," said Trevor Pullan, procurement manager with the Yorkshire-based wholesale company E Park and Son.

"But we can only offer so much when its costs £40 a tonne to bring them up to us, and although we can absorb that in a high price year it's been very difficult this year. Add in the fact that the market is decreasing and the reality is that we can't afford to pay much for this year's crop."

Imports from Jersey also contributed to the oversupply of early potatoes on a market described by Pembrokeshire potato grower Walter Simon as "challenging."