FIWAP (the potato industry organization in the Walloon region of Belgium) and PCA (Interprovinciaal Proefcentrum voor de Aardappelteelt) report in its weekly potato market report that the potato harvest in Europe has been slow and laborious over the past week.
Potato tubers are colder than usual and therefore more difficult to dry. In Belgium, 15-20% of the area remains to be harvested. Abroad, estimates vary from 25% in the Netherlands, 15% in the Nord/Pas-de-Calais region of France, 10-15% in western and northwestern Germany, and 20% in the United Kingdom, mainly in the east and north.
Important upcoming events
The report also highlights several upcoming events in the potato industry. The Collège des Producteurs invites its members to its 19th Sectoral Assembly for Field Crops and Potatoes on November 7. The Centre Pilote Pomme de terre will hold its annual R&D results day on December 13. The 11th edition of French Fry Week in Wallonia will take place from November 6 to 12, celebrating the region’s culinary heritage and the importance of using fresh, local potatoes in the preparation of French fries.
Potato market trends in Europe
The report further provides an update on the potato market. Following the MARS project’s estimation the average potato yield in EU was 35.10 t/ha, slightly lower than last season, but 1.00 t/ha higher than the five-year average of 34.10 t/ha. The estimated yield for Belgium is 40.0 t/ha. On the futures market, potato prices remained stable. On the physical markets, prices varied between regions and varieties.
In Belgium, processors are not very active in buying on the open market. Intermediaries are a little more active, looking for dry lots ex-shed. Prices up to €15.00/q are being offered for reliable export lots.
In the Netherlands there were mixed market signals last week. For the first time in a long time, the NAO did not rate industrial categories due to a lack of agreement between the parties. Tension is clearly building in the market with the delay in the harvest and unfavorable weather forecasts in the short term.
In France, the harvest is dragging on in Nord/Pas-de-Calais and Normandy, where approximately 15% of the crop remains to be harvested. The industry is not buying more than is provided for in previous contracts and price quotations are little changed.
In Germany, rainfall over the past 10 days has prevented the end of the harvest for both the fresh and industrial markets. In the fresh market, initial negotiations for price increases on table varieties continue as growers believe a bonus is needed to reduce inventories.
North American trends
This year’s North American crop is the largest of the past five seasons and may even be excessive, leading some growers to leave large areas unharvested. In Idaho alone, it is estimated that approximately 500,000 metric tons will not find a buyer. Most of the crop is destined for processing, but there are also plenty of table potatoes.
Marketers are trying to find more local and export market opportunities, especially in areas where Europeans have gained market share in recent years. The Euro appears to be weakening, which favors European exporters.