Shoppers urged to buy ‘less-than-gorgeous’ potatoes from flood-hit producers

Bags of potatoes grown by flood-hit producers are carrying special blue stickers to encourage shoppers to buy them despite their less-than-perfect appearance.

Potato growers – mainly those in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and parts of Yorkshire – have been badly hit by crop damage after suffering the worst flooding since 2012.

Tesco said it will sell packs of potatoes grown in the region from this week with the blue sticker, which reads: “I’m not looking my gorgeous normal self but I still taste great. Buy me and support British farmers affected by the floods.”

It follows a move by the supermarket to widen the specifications set by retailers governing the overall look and quality of fruit and vegetables.

Tesco said the potatoes could be slightly misshapen, with blemishes and discolouring.

Around 60% of Tesco’s premium quality potatoes are grown in the East of England.

It is the second year running that potato farmers have been hit by poor growing conditions, following the Beast from the East and drought in 2018.

A flooded potato field this year. (AHDB/PA)
A flooded potato field (AHDB/PA)

Tesco potato buyer Ben Rowbotham said: “In order to support our British growers in eastern regions, we have worked collaboratively with supplier Branston to ensure farmers are supported and customers are not facing a shortfall at this key time.

“In Norfolk and Lincolnshire in particular, harvesting conditions have been extremely challenging and growers have worked hard to get as much crop out of the ground as possible.

“This means that some of our premium quality Finest range potatoes won’t look as bright as they normally do. However, they will still taste great and we want to make sure that customers realise quality is more than just skin deep.”

Branston commercial director Richard Clark said: “This autumn’s waterlogged fields have prevented or delayed harvesting. In some cases up to half the crop has been lost and we are still trying to harvest the remaining 20% of our tonnages.”

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said farmers had “persevered in the face of adversity” during the wettest year since 2012.

It reassured customers that the success of the harvest and volume of stored crop meant Christmas roast potatoes and crisps were expected to be safe.

The AHDB’s head of arable market intelligence, David Eudall, said: “Farmers have worked through challenging conditions to harvest the majority of potatoes planted this year, which is a testament to their resilience.

“However, for those who couldn’t lift earlier in the year, the saturated or flooded ground is affecting their ability to access the crop, particularly in the north-west of the country, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.”

Historically 2012 was the last wettest year when 14.8in (375mm) of rain fell in the UK, but not as wet as the year 2000 when a total of 19.6in (498mm) hit the country, according to data from AHDB’s weather hub.

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