Medio November the NEPG (the North-Western European potato growers association) managed – after a rather difficult harvesting season – to make a first attempt of
After one of the wettest summers in the past decades the harvesting conditions in most countries were far from ideal, exception made for France where lifting
activities were accomplished smoothly and fast.
In many areas growers postponed harvesting hoping for better weather conditions, but additional rainfall made circumstances even worse. Between end of September
and early November, most potato harvesters worked at 60 to 70% of their capacity only.
Generally speaking the gross output in the various countries is average to good, with serious geographical variations though.
The expectations, however, is that net output will be lower as a result of considerable losses on the fields as a result of excessive rainfall. Morover the presence of
hollow harted tubers, cloven ones is considerably higher than previous years. Last but not least the storage can also create a percentage of losses, but it’s too early
to judge this at this moment.
In 2021 the total acreage in the EU-4 (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany) shrank by 24 000 hectares from 522 000 to 498 000 hectares. Production is expected
to be in the area of 22,7 million tons, what is 700 000 tons less than in 2020.
This reduction in output volume, together with an increased demand for exports of potato products, brings a certain balance between supply and demand.
Processing factories are facing problems to build up stocks to normal operational levels again. Ongoing problems in supplies are caused by slower intakes, fast growing
processing costs (energy, frying oils, packing materials, labour), whereas the export remains depending upon a possible revival post Covid-19 worldwide.
In spite of the uncertainties mentioned, most insiders expect well balanced markets throughout the season.
In the past 12 months production costs for growers have gone up steeply. The price paid for diesel and electricity break all times records and also fertilizer became
very expensive. Not to forget the ongoing upward spiral of costs for plant protection products…
At the same time prices paid for cereals and colza have gone up considerably, so that potato growers have more and less riskfull alternatives to take into consideration.
Growing potatoes entails more and more risks, both financial (fast increasing production costs) and in relation to changing climatic conditions.
The NEPG expects that contract prices paid by the processing industry for season 2022/23 will have to be 3-4 €/100 kg higher in order to keep growers’ interest alive.
Lack of better prices paid to growers could lead to a further reduction of acreage, which in turn would have an effect on prices of finished products.