§ Mr. Eastham
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current surplus of potatoes in the United Kingdom; and if he will ensure the availability of the surplus crop at reduced prices to the housewife.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
It is not yet possible to predict the exact size of the United Kingdom surplus. 323W Approximately 478,000 tonnes of potatoes have been sold for stockfeed. In Great Britain, the Potato Marketing Board has approximately a further 160,000 tonnes under contract, some of which are currently being released back for human consumption.
The aim of support buying is to balance supply and demand in such a way that, for a crop whose yield can fluctuate widely from year to year, adequate supplies are ensured for consumers and at the same time producers receive not less than the guaranteed price. If the surplus were to be sold to consumers at reduced prices this would frustrate the purpose of the market support operations.