UPDATED SITUATION FRESH POTATOES

As informed in previous news flash, this is the first season (harvest season 2020/21) in which the use of CIPC derivated sprout inhibitors is strictly forbidden by the EU.
Some 3 months after the first intake of freshly harvested potato tubers, there are clear indications that the alternative sprout inhibitors are not as efficient as the products containing CIPC.

Already at this moment farmers in Belgium, the Netherlands and France are reporting sprouting activity on the tubers in their air conditioned stores.
Bearing in mind that neither the fresh market, nor the processing industry can make use of potato tubers showing sprouts, there is a good deal of likelihood that the entire industry
will be facing another nightmare in the following weeks and months. Especially once winter is over and the outside temperature starts climbing up again, there will be no possibility to
stop tubers from sprouting and start a self-deterioration process.

When taking possible losses of volumes of available fresh potatoes into account on top of the fact that farmers are expected to plant some 15% less acreage in the new season 2021/22, we
would not be surprised if March/April brings a complete turnaround in today’s situation of potato products. We recommend our customers to remain extremely vigilant.
Last but not least the ocean freight has become very unstable on all lines due to reduced amounts of empty containers resulting in sharply increased seafreights.
As 1+1+1 = 3, we do not exclude sudden price increases in springtime 2021.

UPDATE FRESH POTATO SITUATION ON NOVEMBER 3rd

The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) estimates that the total harvest will be 27.9 million tons this season if all potatoes in the ground will be indeed harvested.
The harvest is later than usual with all the risks involved and there are still some potatoes in challenging wet areas in Western Belgium and Great Britain. This is 4,5 % or 1 million tons more than last season in the 5 leading potato countries.
The NEPG considers that the growers in the North-Western EU will plant totally 15 % less next spring.

Due to Covid-19 the worldwide demand for processed potato products decreased enormously and the actual demand for raw material from the factories is about 85 % compared to last season, before the pandemic. The actual low free-buy price level for processing potatoes is emphasizing this.

Volume reduction of the contracts

European and Northern American potato processors have large stocks of ready products in their cold-stores and need less raw material for a longer period. It is expected that they will reduce their next year’s contracts in volume with the growers and have hardly interest in free potatoes.

Due to the actual cost of growing and storing potatoes a reduction of the contract prices is not expected. Over the last 5 years, the NEPG growers increased their consumption potato area by 7.7 %.

The increase in France was almost 14 % and Germany 10 %, however, also the other countries increased their area. This increased area is an enormous contrast compared to the slower growth of the demand for raw material by the factories, and reduction since the Covid-19 situation.

With the upcoming second lockdowns in several countries, the NEPG expects no changes over the upcoming season. On top of this also the result of the Brexit discussions could influence the market.

Transition season

Due to new regulations for storage (ban of CIPC, introduction, and use of ‘new’ sprout control products), especially the longer storage this upcoming season can be considered as challenging, a transition year.

The availability of some new anti-sprouting materials is lower than what growers need, and their use is more expensive and more difficult (adapted warehouses, gasing equipment,…) technically than with CIPC.

The NEPG expects that fewer growers will go for the extreme long storage and it is strongly advised to re-calculate the cost-price before signing any contract.