Improving performance in the fresh potato supply chain

4th April 2019

Field trials conducted during the 2017 growing season in the UK have shown how the use of smart technology, combined with training and greater supply chain collaboration, can help maximise crop yields.

Key Points
New report shows WRAP and ASDA IPL found significant variations in UK potato yields and a critical need for more standardised data measurement on farm.
The new trials helped increase crop yields and limited rejection through noncompliance with specifications.

The project worked with 14 growers in the East of England supplying fresh potatoes for retail in ASDA stores through their integrated supply chain partner, IPL. 

The aim of this project was to maximise the amount of fresh potato crops in desired retail specification from field to pack-house by using a range of tools with growers and the supply chain. These tools included technical training and the use of a crop yield model developed by NIAB to provide forecasts of total and graded yield ahead of harvest (the NIAB Potato Yield Model). The project team collected data to determine the impact of the initiative on reducing losses of marketable yield from field to pack house.

This project has gone some way to collecting the objective data that is required in order to assess variability and ultimately help improve the performance of crops in future years. Our key recommendation is that ensuring common data standards that operate across the whole industry is vital to effective performance monitoring and improvements.

“At IPL, we are really interested to see how yields can be improved and better predicted ahead of pack-out in our facilities. Any tool that can reduce uncertainty in our supply chain gives a huge benefit to our planning and operations, and the work WRAP are undertaking should give a common approach across the industry.” Ian Harrison, IPL Technical Director. 

“Improving crop yields without putting added stress on the environment is what everyone wants, and these trials show that closer monitoring and more standardised measurement can make that happen. We want more growers and their customers to look into the details of how this can be applied to their operations.” Peter Maddox, Director at WRAP.