Gary Mac-Fall is senior category manager at our operations arm IPL. Here he explains how the weather has impacted our potato growers – and how we’re making sure our stores have plenty of produce for Christmas.
This is my 25th year in the produce industry and no one can remember a year quite like this
for potato crops. We started with a very wet and cold spring then we had the
hottest and driest summer that I can remember which meant temperatures got so hot the
potatoes stopped growing. Potato crops don’t grow when it’s above 28 degrees, no
matter how much water you give them.
There's a lot of interest in how growers have coped with the weather and how we've ensured as many British potatoes as possible are hitting shelves now and in the run-up to Christmas. In fact, I'll be talking about it on TV soon. Here I am being interviewed by Chris Bavin for The One Show!
We source 100% of our potatoes from growers throughout the UK – from Suffolk to Dundee. Scotland had a pretty good season and ended up with relatively normal crops but the hardest hit areas were from East Anglia to Leeds and particularly Hereford.
In an exceptional year like this one we ensure our growers can still sell their potatoes and maximise their crops by widening the specification on the potatoes we take. This helps us keep our costs down for customers, and ensure our farmers are getting a fair price for their crop.
Over the next few months, there will still be plenty of potatoes in our stores, however you may notice that our spuds are a little smaller than usual. You don’t need to peel them – just give them a good scrub and cut off any chits where the potatoes have started to sprout.
The good news is that although potatoes may be a little smaller than normal they will still makes perfect roasties, mash, chips and baked potatoes!