With higher acreage and yields equal to the five-year average, the harvest of consumer potatoes in North-West Europe is 3.8 percent higher this year than last year. The Netherlands does not contribute to this.
This is shown by figures from the north-west European potato growers (NEPG). The organization estimates that this year the total yields for consumer potatoes will reach the five-year average. These are the five most important potato countries: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Great Britain.
As the area has increased by 1.4% compared to last year, the total harvest in the NEPG countries is estimated at 27.9 million tonnes compared to 26.9 million tonnes last year. That’s 3.8 percent more than last year. A large harvest, with the current situation, but not as large as the year 2017 with 29.6 million tonnes.
Growth in three countries
The 3.8 percent increase in harvests is due to Belgium (3.5 percent), Germany (7 percent) and France (6.9 percent). In Britain, growth is just 0.4 percent. Due to the decrease in the area from 78,900 hectares in 2019 to 77,000 hectares in 2020 and a constant yield per hectare, the total yield in the Netherlands decreases by 2.4 percent.
After the heat wave in July and August, the crops are more outdated than usual and less productive. Recent trials show an average growth of only 200 to 300 kilos per day, which is extremely low. The NEPG also reports large differences in revenue. Not only about the five countries, but also within the five countries.
Market is off balance
The main reason the market is out of balance is the corona crisis with global lockdowns. As a result, there is much less demand for potato products from the foodservice market. The demand from the retail market for potato products did increase, but this is not enough to compensate for the lost demand from the hospitality industry and events.
It is therefore clear that the balance between supply and demand is completely lost, which is reflected in the current prices for free potatoes and the future indication of prices. This is especially true for the processing of potatoes. ‘The demand of the processing plants has increased again, but it is not yet at the same level as before the corona crisis’, according to the NEPG.
Factories seem to have enough frozen product in stock and they also have enough contracted potatoes. They hardly need any extra free resources. The NEPG expects that the low prices for free potatoes could continue at least until the end of the year or even longer. The market for fresh table potatoes does a little better.
The NEPG advises their growers to take control and take control of their own future. Growers in the NEPG are due to reduce the area next year. ‘There’s no point in growing potatoes and receiving low prices. Save your precious land for the future and consider setting aside or growing other crops (e.g. cereals) on your plots’, reports the NEPG.
It’s time for risk management and careful cost pricing. ‘Will the demand for the processing of potatoes return to the old level and how can we adapt supply to this new situation?’ According to NEPG, this should be the most important questions for the growers at the moment.