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Potatoes in the UK

7 April, 2010

An infograph about potato production and consumption in the UK

Today’s infograph was initially inspired by a report titled ‘Agriculture in the United Kingdom – 2009 edition’ published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the 25th of March 2010.

The graph is divided in three sections:

A. Nutrition
Very basic nutrition facts about potatoes are presented. The data come from Nutrition Data, a very comprehensive website where you can find a wealth of information about various types of foods. [ http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2548/2 ]

Please note that the information presented is for raw, white potatoes including their flesh and skin. If you peel them and of course if you cook them the nutrition figures will vary. Also the facts vary for different varieties of potatoes.

Please also note that the numbers (percentages/gr) of the nutrients and water do not add up (to a total of 100gr); this is perhaps due to some number rounding.

What seems interesting here is that more than 80gr per 100 of the potatoes that we buy is water! And with every 100gr of potatoes we get 1/3 of the vitamin C we need in a day (according to US Recommended Daily Allowance).

B. Production (in the UK)
The data for this section come from the  ‘Agriculture in the United Kingdom – 2009 edition’ report that I have already mentioned. On the top there is bar chart showing a steady growth of the farm land used for potatoes.

The report (p.47) states that the ‘average price paid to registered producers (£ per tonne)’ for all potatoes is 126 (GBP per tonne) which means 12.6p per Kg. It is quite interesting to compare this price with the prices we buy from the grocers (see third (C) section).

Finally, the volume of the potatoes harvested in 2009 in the UK was 6.4 million tonnes. This is more than 100Kg of potatoes per UK resident per year (assuming that all the UK production will be consumed as food by UK residents; in other words no potato exports or imports).

C. Price of potatoes (per Kg)
A random survey of five ‘high street’ grocers (all in Brixton area, London) shows a significant variation on prices depending on the grocer and the variety of the potatoes in question.

The majority of the potatoes sold is produced in the UK.

Egypt (baby new potatoes – Nicola, organic white potatoes/organic baking potatoes – Lady Balfour, organic new/baby potatoes – Vales Emerald, Charlotte), Israel (baby new potatoes – Nicola/Maris Peer, new potatoes – Maris Peer, organic new potatoes – Maris Peer, organic potatoes – Sante), France (Charlotte) and USA (various types of sweet potato) are the most common countries the surveyed grocers import from.

UK wise, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Sussex, Essex, Hertfordshire, Perthshire,  Fife, Aberdeen and Angus are some of the locations commonly mentioned.

It is quite interesting that in some cases the name of the farmer who grows the potatoes is presented on the packaging. It is perhaps an attempt from the grocers’ side (most of the potatoes are packaged as the grocers’ own-brand products) to show that the product has been tendered by an eponymous human being rather than it is another ‘industrialised’ item.

Price wise, on the graph, set in green are the lowest prices for a particular variety. Sainsbury’s sell 1Kg of British white potatoes for 30p which is by far the lowest price you will find in high street grocers.

The informal survey took place today, 07 April 2010, between 10-11:30 am in Brixton area, London. The grocers visited were:
– Iceland
– Lidl
– Marks & Spencer
– Sainsbury’s (Local)
– TESCO (Superstore)

If it is useful (for comparison), on the same day (07 April 2010) the price of potatoes (Loose) at Gyzi flee market in Athens, Greece was between 0.75-0.80 EUROs and they were imported either from Egypt or from Cyprus. The small-size (baby) potatoes were priced at about 0.40 EUROs per Kg; quite different from the UK where baby potatoes tend to be more expensive than the regular-size ones.

A week  before that, (Wednesday, 31 March 2010), the price of potatoes at Futoska market, Novi Sad, Serbia, was the equivalent of 0.20-0.30 EUROs per Kg; it seems that in Serbia they can even beat Sainsbury’s!

TABLE of grocers surveyed and varieties of potatoes sold

Grocer Product Variety Origin Package Total Price Price per Kg Display until
LIDL OAKLANDS British white potatoes (Class I) Almera Lincolnshire, UK 2.5Kg 89p 35.6p
LIDL
OAKLANDS British baby potatoes (Class I) Charlotte Aberdeen, UK 1Kg 99p 99p
LIDL OAKLANDS British  speciality potatoes (Class I) King Edward Lincolnshire, UK 2.5Kg £1.69 67.6p
LIDL
Baking potatoes Loose (Class I) Estima Cambridgeshire, UK 50p
LIDL
Sweet potatoes (Class I) Sweet potatoes USA (www.scottfarms.com) £1.15 (was £1.24)
LIDL
Rooster potatoes (Class I) Rooster Fife, Scotland (produced by David Russel) 2Kg £1.42 (was £1.46) 71p
TESCO White potatoes Harmony UK 2.5Kg £1.24 49.6p 10 April
TESCO Maris Piper Maris Piper Great Britain 2.5Kg £1.85 74p 07 April
TESCO Baking potatoes (Loose) ? UK £1.24
TESCO Baby new potatoes Nicola Egypt 1Kg £1 (was £1.40) £1 03 April
TESCO King Edward King Edward GB 2.5Kg £1.87 74.8p 09 April
TESCO King Edward King Edward GB 1.5Kg £1.25 (or 2(x1.5Kg = 3Kg) for £1.5) 83.3p (or 50p) 10 April
TESCO
Exquisa Potatoes Finest
Exquisa
Israel
1Kg
£1 (was £2)
£1
10 April
TESCO
Organic White Potatoes
Lady Balfour
Egypt
2.1Kg
£1.50 (was £1.74)
71p
13 April
TESCO
Charlotte potatoes
Charlotte
Egypt
1Kg
£1.50
£1.50
10 April
TESCO Baking potatoes (Jacket) Harmony GB 2.5Kg £1.00 (was £1.90) 40p (was 76p) 10 April
TESCO Sweet potatoes loose (Class I) Sweet potatoes USA £1.24
TESCO Desiree potatoes Desiree GB 2.5Kg £1.95 97.5p 11 April
TESCO Organic baking potatoes Lady Balfour Egypt 1.2Kg £1.50 £1.25 10 April
TESCO Organic baby new potatoes Vales Emerald Egypt 640gr £1.00 £1.56 08 April
TESCO Organic new potatoes Vales Emerald Egypt 1.3Kg £1.5 £1.15 11 April
TESCO Carolina Sun Sweet potatoes USA package of 4 £2 50p (per potato) 22 April
ICELAND White potatoes Saxon Perth, UK 2Kg £1 50p 13 April
ICELAND White potatoes Estima Hertford, UK 5Kg £2 40p 13 April
ICELAND
Baby new potatoes Maris Peer Sussex, UK 1Kg £1 £1 08 April
ICELAND Baking potatoes Saxon Lincolnshire, UK 2Kg £1 50p 13 April
SAINSBURY’S
Baby new potatoes Maris Peer Israel 750gr £1.50 £2 11 April
SAINSBURY’S
British White Potatoes Orla / Saxon
Perthshire (by John Stewart) / Angus by Ian Fairlle, UK 1Kg 30p 30p 12 April/ 13 April
SAINSBURY’S
Baking Potatoes, Loose Estima Hertfordshire, UK £1.18
SAINSBURY’S Sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes USA 500gr 99p £1.98 15 April
SAINSBURY’S Baking potatoes x4 Harmony Angus, UK (by Graham McEwan) 70p 17.5p (per potato) 13 April
SAINSBURY’S British Vivaldi Salad Potatoes Vivaldi Angus, UK (by Ian Stirling)
1Kg £1.99 £1.99 13 April
SAINSBURY’S British Vivaldi potatoes Vivaldi Fife, UK (by Andrew Miller) 2Kg £2 £1 14 April
SAINSBURY’S British Maris Piper Maris Piper Lincolnshire, UK 1.5Kg £1.39 93p 13 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S) baby new potatoes Nicola Israel 750gr £1.99 £2.65 10 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
new potatoes Maris Peer Israel 1Kg
Offer: 2X1Kg=2Kg
£1.99
Offer: £3
£1.99
Offer: £1.5
08 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
miniature new potatoes Maris Peer Israel 500gr £1.99 £3.98 08 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Baking potatoes (Class I) Loose Marfona British £1.79
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Charlotte potatoes Charlotte France 700gr £1.04 £1.49 11 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Organic new potatoes Maris Peer Israel 750gr £1.89 £2.52 04 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Organic potatoes Sante Israel 1.5Kg
£1.99 £1.33 11 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Everyday potatoes Marfona Lincolnshire, UK (by George Read) 2.5Kg £1.32 52.8p 13 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Maris Piper Maris Piper Lincolnshire, UK (by Steven Wrisdale) 2.25Kg £2.49 £1.11 11 April
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
New potatoes, Loose (washed) Israel £1.89
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
Maris Piper, Loose, Baking potatoes Maris Piper UK £1.79
MARKS & SPENCER (M&S)
King Edward potatoes King Edward Essex, UK (by Allan Stevenson) 1.75Kg £1.99 £1.14 11 April


Sources:

http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2548/2

‘Agriculture in the United Kingdom – 2009 edition’ PDF document


Credits:
Jelena Sinadinovic (for providing prices from Novi Sad, Serbia)
Nicholas Primentas (for providing prices from Athens, Greece)

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