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Potato processing facilities shutting down in Western Europe; calls multiply for reduced planted area

In the European potato sector, the direct consequences of the Covid-19 crisis are stark and multiple, according to a report by FIWAP (Filiere wallonne de la pomme de terre), is the potato industry association of the potato growers in Wallonia, Belgium.

In a report published by FreshPlaza, FIWAP says that several potato processing units are shutting down (totally or partially) in Western Europe, particularly those that supply fast-food restaurants and french fry outlets. It is especially the case in France and the Netherlands.

Throughout the European northwest, calls for a reduction in the 2020 areas multiply, according to the FIWAP report. It notes that it is exceptional and unprecedented that even the processing industry is calling at this time for these decreases. Some buyers of signed contracts are reportedly opting out with compensation.

Several types of measures are being taken by buyers to compensate for the lack of demand for finished products, FIWAP reports. Some of these include a search for additional freezer facilities; a delay in contracted volumes until June to August; searching for alternative outlets (livestock, for example); reduction or removal of areas planned for early potatoes, and a desire to reduce areas and/or contract volumes of early potatoes.

On the fresh markets, activity slowed down after the buying rush of the past 2 weeks brought on by households stocking up on fresh potatoes. FIWAP expects household consumption to stabilize at around 20% above normal.

The uncertainty in the total potato sector is exacerbated because no one knows when (and at what pace) the global markets will re-start again when the crisis is over. FIWAP says in its report.

Read the full report, including a country-by-country situation analysis on FreshPlaza here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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