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Opinion: ‘EU and US markets are an ocean apart’

While the US market has tightened over the last few weeks as orders from foodservice outlets return and shoppers continue to buy more potatoes and potato products for home consumption, there has been a decidedly weaker tone to the EU market as it becomes apparent that growers have not cut back plantings this year and the weather becomes more favourable for the growing crop. This observation is made by Cedric Porter, Editor of World Potato Markets.

He goes on to say that US processors who cut back on demand in March as the coronavirus crisis bit, now find themselves short of potatoes after growers disposed of stocks they thought would go unsold. A cut in US plantings means the tighter market could remain going into the new season.

In the EU, French, Belgian and German growers increased their plantings a little this year, while those in the Netherlands cut back their area by 2.3%. UK estimates are not yet available, but are expected to be similar to last year, if not down a little.

Rain has fallen across Europe in the last two weeks, helping to dampen drought fears. In response, futures have fallen by more than €20/tonne over the last week as the market anticipates an over-supply. However, a return to drier conditions in July and increased orders from foodservice outlets across the world could still tighten the EU market too.

Coronavirus is likely to continue to shape the rest of the Northern Hemisphere old season and the new one both sides of the Atlantic. A positive for the potato industry is that it has allowed shoppers to value the food as a lockdown essential and also highlighted how they have missed their favourite potato sides when they go out to eat.

But the big negative is that the virus is far from being under control, with rising cases in the US and elsewhere and its re-emergence in European and other countries after there was relief that numbers had fallen significantly.

World Potato Markets  provides detailed analysis on global potato and potato product prices, production and trade every week. World Potato Markets recently published its annual 2020 review. The review normally costs US$350 but readers to Potato News Today can purchase it for US$230. Just contact Potato News Today or World Potato Markets at [email protected] and say you are claiming the Potato news Today offer.

World Potato Markets broadcasts the PlanetPotato Podcast, a cultural celebration of the potato: Listen to it here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1028971 and follow it on twitter @PlanetPotatoPod.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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