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.

Current affairs

Dear valued Customers, 

In the context of Corona-virus (Covid-19), we would like to inform you that more and more transport compagnies no longer allowtheir drivers to help loading and unloading their cargo in order not to carry forward any infection.  They are allowed only to open and close the doors of the trailers with gloves and mask on and check loading/unloading from a protected place. 
We kindly ask for respect of internal labour prescriptions of each individual company which is doing its best to protect its workers and members of staff.
Thank you for understanding and cooperation. 

How a national issue can become a global problem…

How a national issue can become a global problem...

In autumn 2019 it was described that international shipping lines had been postponing investments in buying new reefer containers for several years…
Some sources indicate a real need of some 140000 units to cope with the demand from the entire world economy, whereas in reality some 60.000 units are estimated to be available. China’s booming economy has an exponential influence on international logistics and so has one of their main periods of celebration, the Chinese New Year. Not only does it mobilize the largest amount of people on earth (with an estimated 3 billion moves), but it also causes a peak in transport of goods towards the country.  Let that be the very period in which the Corona-virus started affecting public life in the country, causing an economic stand-still, deep-sea ports being overloaded with non-moving containers, ocean vessels not getting unloaded, etc…
Not more than 8 weeks later, there is a general ban on booking reefer containers for ports in the Far-East and shipping lines are parking empty vessels which no longer get the full amount of cargo loaded. Thousands and thousands of containers got stuck in China and Korea and the overall shortage is being felt on all continents : bookings are being canceled, reservations have become insecure, sea freight prices are going up by several hundreds of dollars at at time…. chaos is near…….
We try to give our customers correct background information, as much as we receive it from shipping lines. As soon as the situation in China clears up, it may take several weeks (months?) to get back to normal again….

Ready for embarkation!

Ready for embarkation !!!

In order to be informed about the latest developments in modern ocean logistics Gedimex staff members attended a working seminar at the internation Seaport Terminal of Zeebrugge at the Northsea, with a specific focus on temperature controlled REEFER containers.  The do’s and don’ts were updated and an extensive insight in latest equipment and temperature supervision was acquired. 
Each empty container before leaving the quay is checked on hygienic conditions and photographed systematically when passing through a camera shield in order to avoid discussions about damages.  Upon return on the quay, prior to being lined up for embarkation, the same container and cooling engine are checked again on visible damages. 

Visit port of Zeebrugge

Safety is the word in all container handling operations : human safety, food safety, temperature control, safety at sea …..

In the afternoon the loading of a giant ocean vessel was attended at the port of Antwerp, 2nd largest port in Europe with well over 11.000.000 TEU shipped in 2019. 

Visit port of Antwerp
Visit cargo ship in Antwerp

Being Europe’s deepest inland port (over 80 km away from open sea), the port of Antwerp offers us large benefits in terms of accessibility and speed of delivery. 
Functioning of cooling engines is monitored as soon as the container is taken on board and around the clock. In case of an incident, the tracking system informs the operating officer who sends a technical engineer to the specific container to have a look at the reason of the alert. 

Visit cargo ship Zeebrugge
Visit cargo ship Zeebrugge

Update Season 2019/20

Update fresh potato harvest 2019/20.
The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) have come up with a new harvest estimation for consumption potatoes in the main 5 potato growing countries (F-B-NL-D-UK). 

If all potatoes will be lifted, some 26,9 millions tons will be harvested. 

This is 10% more than last season and 1,8% more than the past 5-years average. The years 2014 and 2017 gave harvest results which were much higher. 

The abovementioned figures have to be placed in a correct context : 
In the “big 5” the total acreage planted increased by 9% when compared to the past 5-years average. However, this season’s yield is much lower (6,8% down the 5-years average). Add to this the fact that Poland has known one of the worst harvests in years and takes a lot of volume in the “big 5” in order to cope with shortages on the fresh market and in processing industry. 

In simple words : the increase in planted area has created only a marginal increase in output in volume of fresh potatoes. When linked to the increase in processing capacity in the past 5 years, it means a serious shortage and this could be felt in the months to come. 

Situation on the fields : 
The main season was started with a serious delay, due to the hot and dry months of July and August. On October 20th still some 60% of all fresh consumption potatoes in Belgium and Holland were still in the ground! Continuous rainfall hindered normal harvesting activities in the first weeks of October. Since beginning of this week (October 28th) some areas have noted the first night frost. 
Quality is fine but irregular and special attention and monitoring will be needed as a lot of potatoes have been harvested and stored in wet conditions, which could cause damage (bacteriae and fungi) at a later stage in the warehouses. 

An interesting table of comparison is added to this article and should be interpreted in the light of what is written above. 

Update season 2019/20

shortage of water
Shortage of rainfall in Belgium in 2017-2018 and 2019. 

When inquiring for prices of products of the agro-industry, people are wondered why we always put ‘lack of rainfall’ forward as one of the main reasons for uninterrupted price increases. 

Below you will see the lack of quantity of rainfall, when compared to the usual height of the water tabel (ground water) : 
– 2017 : 220 liter/m² short
– 2018 : 350 liter/m² short
– 2019 : 300 liter/m² short
Perhaps the private consumer will not like to hear it, but we definitely needs lots of rain in the months to come, so that nature can recuperate. 

Update season 2019/20

Situation update as to new season main crop fresh potatoes

main crop fresh potatoes

With scattered rainfall in week commencing 12th of August, hope on normalisation of new crop lived up again. However since August 22nd

the heat came back and leaves many spurs of uncertainty throughout Europe.      
              
The liftings of early season varieties are nearly over and the industry has made the switch to semi-late varieties, prior to starting main season’s
crop (potatoes for conservation) at the end of August, first days of September. Harvesting should end (in function of local weather and soil 
conditions) around the end of October and before the first night frost comes up.      
              
Whereas in June 2018 it was clear that the entire potato harvest all over Europe would be a disaster, this year the situation is a lot more
complicated. There are differences per country, per region, per village, yet even per farm. This has everything to do with the irregular local 
rainfall or to an even higher extent the lack of it.         
Also the type of soil plays a role, with very poor results on sandy soils.       
After the dramatic situation in 2018, plenty of farmers had massively invested in irrigation equipment, but the widely spread official ban on   
pumping ground waters curtailed the plans and considerably hit the expected yields in Flanders, North of France and parts of Central Germany.
The higher acreage may partly compensate for the loss of yield per hectare, but this will only become clear once the harvest is completed all
over Europe.            
              
Test liftings made in Belgium after 111 days of growth show following figures :       
 Bintje variety : estimated 34 tons per hectare, which is 4 tons per hectare below the 10-years average  
   regrowth on all 17 test fields        
 Fontane variety :estimated 43 tons per hectare in Flanders against 34 tons per hectare in Wallonia, the latter could be caused
   by later planting. The figures would be close to the past 5-years average, on condition the yield per hectare in
   Wallonia keeps growing in the weeks to follow to catch up for the backlog.   
   No regrowth found.         
              
Bearing in mind the above, it remains very difficult to forecast the general outcome in North-Western Europe. After 3-4 weeks of liftings, more
reliable figures should become available by the end of September.       
Prices have come down when compared to season 2018/19, but the overall expected price collapse is out of question. It does not look like price
levels of harvest season 2017/18 will even come near.        
              

News!

First bits of information as to new season fresh potatoes in Belgium...

start new season

According to the Flemish Marketing Center for Agriculture and Fisheries (VLAM), the acreage of fresh potatoes in the northern part of Belgium (Flanders) has increased by over 8% to well above 55.000 hectares. 

The total surface in potatoes in Belgium would reach 100.000 hectaes this season (2019/20).

What this will mean in terms of total output is still a question mark. The soil conditions are not perfect, as the consequences of the heavy draught of last summer can still be felt (very low water table) and unless the months of May and June give unexpectedly many days of rain, a lot of irrigation will be needed to ascertain normal harvest results.