European potato growers did not reduce planting despite the Covid-19 crisis, latest estimates from grower organisations show, World Potato Markets editor Cedric Porter writes.
Both France and Belgium planted record areas at 154,900 hectares (382,765 acres) 97,946 hectares (242,030 acres) respectively. The French area is 1.4% higher than last year, with the Belgian area 0.6% higher. The German potato area of non-industrial potatoes is estimated to be 1.9% larger at 201,710 hectares (498,435 acres).
Even average yields would result in large crops, which could lead to an over-supplied market, especially if demand from foodservice buyers of potatoes, fries and other potato products does not return to normal in the next few months, according to Porter. The market may be able to absorb extra potatoes if higher retail sales can be maintained and demand from restaurants and other outlets increase.
Growers were still planting when the full impact of Covid-19 became clear in March, but many appear to have carried on planting the seed they had intended to rather than heed pleas to cut back their areas.
Despite the large area, adverse weather could still cut the size of the European crop. It was one of the driest springs on record across the continent. Rain in the first part of June gave crops some relief, but hot and dry conditions are now forecast into the first week of July and yield potential may be harmed.
Of the other major European potato-growing nations, the Netherlands and UK are yet to publish area estimates and small increases in planting cannot be ruled out. Elsewhere, the Polish area is up on last year, while most other countries are expected to keep plantings at similar levels to 2019.
Cedric Porter is the Editor of World Potato Markets, a weekly briefing on global potato and potato product prices, production and trade.
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