Yield might be important, but quality is everything when you are selling seed and ware potatoes, according to those in the know.

Speaking at the Potato Producers Annual Conference in Scone, SRUC's Stuart Wale told growers they need to concentrate more on producing a quality crop if they want to continue attracting premium prices, and to do that, they might have to reduce the acreage grown.

"Quality will always sell, so you might have to do a slightly better job on slightly better acres and on a slightly smaller acreage," he said. "In potato production you have to be big enough to cope but also small enough to care."

It was a point echoed by senior potato consultant, Innes Jessman who added that quality is particularly important in the export of seed potatoes: "Different and uncertain times lie ahead for producers and processors, so the industry has to concentrate on selling quality to maintain the reputation of Scottish plc, which has been under pressure recently."

While the export of Scottish seed potatoes is valued at £80-£100m per year, the vast majority of that (65%) heads to Egypt, followed by Morocco (11%) and the Canary Islands. However, with Egypt having reduced the riddle size from 60mm to 55mm, and the Egyptians looking to produce more of their own seed, the country is looking to import more seed from The Netherlands and less from Scotland which traditionally uses a 60mm top riddle.

"The industry needs to diversify and look to new markets," said SAC consulting economist, Julian Bell.

Instead, he said the industry should look to sub-saharan Africa and particularly Kenya, where potatoes are the second largest food crop after maize. Various countries in Africa are also awaiting the introduction of McDonalds fast food outlets and of course fries which opens up all opportunities for processing potato market.

"Kenya has restrictions on imports at the moment but only 10% of the crop is grown from certified seed and the yields are low at 10-15tonnes per ha whereas trials with certified Scottish seed have shown to boost yields to 40-50t/ha."

Mr Bell also said there was potential for Scottish seed exports to Cuba with Russia, which although bans all imports from the EU, could to import ware potatoes post Brexit.