Trade/Markets/Prices, Trends

Insights into the Belgium Potato Trade in 2017

Image result for belgapomThe free potato prices have been high during the whole season, which has affected the markets, as well as imports and exports increasing competition, the representative of Belgapom explains. “Whether there will be a shortage at the end of the season will probably depend on the timing of the early crop,” he added. The weather has also had an effect on all varieties of potato. The floods in Belgium were regional and lower yields and quality problems occurred in many countries. “This can be illustrated by the fact that all varieties share the same price on the free market, which was different during previous seasons. “Some varieties have shown differences quality wise. So we have seen that of the two major processing varieties for Belgium (Fontane and Bintje) the first one had more quality problems this season, where last year it was the reverse,” Cools mentioned. 

“I have the impression that years like this one offer opportunities for long- term relationships between the operators in the potato value chain. On the other hand, one cannot neglect the fact that lessons have to be learned from this year. Seed potato quality, investments in irrigation and quality storage, and a broad weather related insurance have to be considered,” Cools said.

He added that potato prices in the EU have always been much more volatile than in the US or Canada. “I believe that the global market is driven by demand, and the demand for processed products all over the world is high,” he explains. The further evolution of population growth in Asia and Africa and the increased buying power of the middle-classes will affect the markets more than the current potato prices.

It is unclear how the Brexit will influence the relations with the UK in the longer term. It may cause changes in the British agriculture scheme and trade conditions could evolve. “Up to now I guess the Brexit and the drop in the value of the British pound have made European product more expensive. But contracts were made and have to be executed. On the other hand, the shortage of potatoes in the EU has also affected the exports of fresh potatoes from the UK to Belgium. But it is too early now for future conclusions,” Cools concluded.

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