Five reasons why...

...tucking into a portion of potatoes helps the UK Economy

In what looks like being the worst recession in UK history, UK farmers and food processors are playing their part to keep the country’s economy going. Andrew Curtis from the Potato Processor’s Association (PPA) looks at the contribution being made by that most humble of vegetables, the potato.

Farmers are often accused of never being happy with the weather – too dry, too wet, too hot – but no-one could argue that they have faced more challenges than usual over the past few years, and especially the past few months. The current COVID-19 pandemic, poor weather conditions over the past two seasons, making potato harvesting particularly challenging at the beginning of this year, the significant and ongoing loss of authorisations for active substances intended to protect and store products, and the continued uncertainty regarding the status of UK ware and seed potato exports post-Brexit. But despite all that, they plough on and the agricultural sector continues to make a valuable contribution to UK Plc, helping to rebalance the economy.

1 Financial gains

Collectively PPA members are the largest customer for UK potatoes, processing approximately 1.4 million tonnes annually. Each year they spend more than £240m buying potatoes from UK growers.

2 Biggest customer

In 2018 potatoes intended for processing accounted for 30.6% of the total planted area across Great Britain, with around half of that volume currently grown in Yorkshire and the East of England.

3 Employing thousands

It is estimated that there are currently more than 13,000 people directly employed throughout the UK potato processing sector and the gross value added (GVA) impact, considering our full supply chains, is likely to be more than double this total.

4 Retail success

Processed potatoes accounted for about 71% of the value retail sales for potatoes and derived products (Kantar, 52 w/e 14 July 2019), with a combined value of £2.5 billion (when foodservice is included this figure rises to over £4.5 billion).

5 Exports

The sector is also helping to drive exports:

  • In 2018 the sector exported more than £89m worth of sliced potato crisps, an export market value that has grown by 87% over the past 10 years (with over 95% of all potato crisps manufactured in UK made from home grown potatoes),
  • In 2018 the frozen and processed potato sector also saw a 29% growth in global exports (compared to 2017 and up on all previous years).

The Potato Processor’s Association (PPA) is the representative body for UK manufacturers of frozen and chilled chips and potato products, potato crisps, potato-based snack products and dehydrated potatoes. PPA membership includes some of the biggest household brands in the UK, as well as supplying many of the own branded products for retailers and the out of home sector that we love and enjoy.

CHAP’s Crop Storage Research Facility provides research, expertise and training for the crop storage industry and specialises in potato and other field vegetable or top fruit storage for producers, supply chains and the broader industry. 

If you have any questions about working with CHAP, please send us an email using the enquiries form at the bottom of our homepage.


Please note, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of CHAP.