Potato Shortages Projected For The UK This Year

Difficult weather conditions in Britain are due to result in a shortage of spuds for the country this year.

The weather over the last year has been a nightmare for UK potato farmers, rain and floods delayed planting last spring, then gave way to a harsh summer drought, which caused plants to whither, followed by even more storms that made harvests difficult.

Potatoes can be difficult to harvest, as even the most high-end potato harvesting machines can’t work in such muddy fields. Additionally, potatoes harvested when it’s too wet can rot. Even overly dry weather can cause bruising during harvest. As a result, many of last year’s potatoes are still in the ground, rotting away in flooded fields.

“There are literally hundreds of things that can go wrong,” says Tom Pocklington, AKP crop ­production director. “And the one thing you haven’t thought of will happen.”

“I’ve been here 13 years and we’ve never, ever left a crop in the ground before,” Pocklington continues. “And because you have to rotate the fields for potatoes, we rent out a lot of land, so that has an impact on the local farmers, who should have drilled in wheat last winter, but can’t.”

Not only is this a problem for consumers, who will face shortages of their favorite varieties and increased prices, but growers are also losing large parts of last year’s profits — and losing out on this year’s to boot. Fields that should have been prepared for the planting of wheat last year are full of mud and potatoes, which could lead to even more shortages.

Wheat shortages are already coming thanks to the war in Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia produce huge portions of the world’s wheat, and able-bodied farmers are being pulled into the war on both sides.

Potatoes are also impacted by international relations. Israel, a major importer of potatoes, isn’t producing as much due to the Israel-Palestine war. The area in which most Israeli potatoes are grown directly borders the Gaza Strip.

The demand for potatoes in Europe and the Middle East is likely to increase as a result, and the top exporter, Egypt, may begin to have trouble keeping up.

With both potatoes and wheat likely to be hard to come by in the coming year, and global markets already slowing down due to shortages, the UK may have to cut down consumption of its favorite starches.