Europe, UK, Ireland, News September 2022, Organizations in the News, Production/Agronomy, Studies/Reports, Trends

NEPG: Potato production down due to climate change, quality and storage problems expected

The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates that potato production in the NEPG zone (EU-04) countries will on average be down by between 7 and 11 percent. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France comprise the NEPG EU-04 member countries.

NEPG says in a press release that the final harvested acreage across the four NEPG countries will most likely be 510.938 ha in total – 3,2% more than last year, and a rise of 1,7 % compared to the 5 year average. Dutch growers planted 7,7 % hectares more than in 2021.

Dry and hot summer

After a long and unusually very dry and hot summer, overall potato production has been reduced throughout the NEPG zone, the industry body says. Situations vary between countries and regions, with Belgian and French farmers most affected (around 20% less for the Belgians), while Dutch production was less affected, particularly those farms located north of the great rivers where more rainfall was recorded during the summer.

NEPG points out that some farmers will not be able to deliver on their expected contracts due to lower than expected yields.

Summer 2022 will be recorded as a difficult and a very costly year, NEPG says – not only because yields are low in some areas, but also because energy and irrigation costs were much higher.

The heat waves experienced in Europe throughout the summer would also have caused some quality and storage issues. Even if rain comes to improve soil situations and harvesting conditions in the near future, bruising could be a problem while lifting. Early germination in storages will also render the upcoming storage season difficult and more expensive. Weight losses and wastage levels (due to among other things bruising) will probably be higher.

Unlike 2018-19 when potatoes could be introduced from other parts of Europe (i.e. mostly from Poland), this season no potatoes will be coming from elsewhere while processors’ needs have strongly increased the last years.

Outlook for 2023

According to NEPG, current contract prices for 2022 – 2023 were signed early in the year, prices were acceptable, but after the war started, and during the whole of the last 6 months, production costs have dramatically risen. Actual contract prices do not cover the additional costs farmers have been facing and are due to face in the coming weeks and months. With free buy market prices stable at 25 €/100 kg, and future market quotations for April 2023 not very much higher, farmers are very concerned about their potato incomes.

With very much higher costs (electricity, diesel, fertilizers…) and higher risks linked to climate change and the war in Ukraine, some potato farmers wonder what they should plant in the spring of 2023. With no guarantees from buyers, potato producers could end up deciding to plant more alternative crops.

Source: North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG)

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