Trade/Markets/Prices

‘Scarecrows’ protest outside UK Parliament as MP’s debate supermarkets’ treatment of farmers

British farmers, represented by Riverford Organic’s petition-backed protest featuring scarecrows outside Parliament, request MPs to enact stronger protections against the “big six” supermarkets’ buying practices. With 49% of farmers at risk of going out of business within a year, they urge for reforms in the grocery supply code. The debate follows as over 110,000 people advocate for a grocery industry overhaul.

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Irish potato market thrives amidst cold weather, European markets show mixed trends

During the cold wave in Ireland, potato sales are on the rise, as reported by the Irish Farmers Association. Despite a tough harvest reducing yields, demand and prices for quality potatoes remain steady. Across Europe, with 15,000 hectares still unharvested, the market shows strength and a trend towards higher prices. Exports are reviving, especially towards the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, indicating growth potential in international markets.

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Pepper ringspot virus outbreak prompts Zimbabwe to restrict potato imports from South Africa

Zimbabwe restricts import of potatoes from South Africa due to an outbreak of Pepper ringspot virus (PepRSV). The Ministry of Lands aims to protect the local potato industry. The International Plant Protection Convention issued a notification on the detection of PepRSV in South Africa, warning of potential negative effects on trade and export. Symptoms of PepRSV in potatoes include brown lines, rings, and flecks, with potential economic losses due to quality issues.

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Idaho’s trade mission to Mexico: A boon for the potato industry and beyond

Governor Brad Little of Idaho recently led a successful trade mission to Mexico, focusing on strengthening agricultural trade, also in potatoes. Joined by state departments and 20 Idaho businesses, the mission aimed to expand Idaho’s $202 million export market in Mexico. Key activities included promoting Idaho potatoes to major retailers and discussing research collaborations. This mission highlights Idaho’s commitment to enhancing its economy through international trade, especially in its renowned potato industry.

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Potato prices quadruple in Ukraine due to supply shortage and quality issues

Ukrainian potato prices have surged to 15-20 UAH/kg ($0.39-0.52/kg), representing an 11% increase from the end of 2023. This price spike is attributed to dwindling local supply, exacerbated by unfavorable weather and subpar seed potatoes. Market players anticipate further price hikes due to a potential scarcity of high-quality potatoes. The latest hike reflects a 3.9-fold increase from early January 2023.

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Potato market update: Climatic challenges and rising demand in Ireland, the UK and Europe as Christmas approaches

As the festive season approaches, Ireland is experiencing a surge in potato demand, leading to challenges for farmers. The high clay content in harvested crops is complicating yield predictions and causing storage issues. In the UK, there’s an increase in direct movement of potatoes from farms as buyers prepare for Christmas, leading to firm prices for chipping varieties. Across Europe, efforts are underway to harvest remaining crops amidst challenges like frost damage.

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Potato power: U.S. sees notable rise in potato export values across multiple categories

In Q3 2023, US potato exports saw a major boost, with an overall 10.8% increase in value, reaching $607 million, according to Potatoes USA. The fresh potato segment showed growth in exports value and volume. Particularly, exports to Mexico soared by 48.8%. However, the exports fell in Canada and Taiwan. The frozen potato sector saw a mixed trend, but dehydrated potatoes saw significant growth. Potato chips and seed potatoes demonstrated varied trends.

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Potato industry navigating the aftermath of Northern Europe’s wet and delayed harvest

A rain-delayed harvest in Europe has increased the potato supply in the market. These lower-quality potatoes, selling directly from field to processor, have suppressed price increases. Hardest hit regions are the Netherlands and Belgium, with 15% and 11% of their crops still uncollected as of late November. Market players anticipate a price surge once these late-harvested potatoes are processed. However, there are concerns about the availability of free-buy potatoes due to the high proportion of early processed crops.

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Mix of challenges and successes in the Irish potato market, weather woes across parts of Europe

The Irish Farmers Association reports a strong demand in the potato market due to the festive season, leading to price adjustments. However, unusual weather conditions have hindered crop harvesting and storage, reducing the saleable yield. The situation extends beyond Ireland into Europe, with parts of France, Belgium, and Holland also facing challenges in harvesting due to cold weather and heavy rainfall.

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Cheaper Canadian potatoes hurt Maine farmers’ bottom line

Canadian potatoes are flooding U.S. markets due to a favorable exchange rate, resulting in financial hardship for Maine farmers. Despite having a good crop quality, they are struggling to compete with cheaper imports from Canada. The present situation is worsened by Maine’s wet growing season. Maine growers historically have pushed for more federal agriculture subsidies to equal what they perceive as the Canadian government’s generous support of farmers.

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Global potato markets in flux: Insights from Canada, the U.S., and Europe

The United Potato Growers of Canada’s recent update reveals a complex global potato market. Canada’s stable production contrasts with the U.S.’s surplus and aggressive pricing, especially in Idaho. Europe faces challenges with unprecedented rainfall affecting the harvest. Surpluses in North America and difficulties in Europe present potential market opportunities. The industry is navigating these varied dynamics, with Canada and the U.S. possibly benefiting from the current global situation.

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Crisis in the fields: France’s potato prices surge amid climate change threats

France is grappling with a severe farming crisis, as national inflation has dramatically increased potato prices, affecting various potato-based products. The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported a nearly 23% rise in potato prices within a year. The crisis has disrupted the French supply chain, leading to a 50% hike in prices for potato processors buying potatoes from growers. Contracts between growers and manufacturers have become 36% more expensive, with no immediate relief in sight.

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Maine’s potato farmers face ever-rising costs, impact on consumer prices looms

In Maine, potato prices may soon rise due to escalating farming costs. Farmers face higher expenses for electricity, diesel, and labor, impacting their profit margins. Despite current stable prices in grocery stores, the increased production costs, affected by supply chain issues and inflation, could eventually lead to higher prices for consumers. Maine’s potato industry, worth $247 million, is grappling with economic challenges that may affect the market.

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Adapting to crisis: Evolution of the UK potato industry amidst unprecedented challenges

The British potato industry is facing a crisis due to COVID-19, the Ukraine conflict, inflation, and weather issues, leading to a significant drop in production. In response, potato suppliers like Wolds Produce are negotiating longer, more flexible contracts with manufacturers. Despite some support from crisp manufacturers, the sector struggles with reduced seed production and the lowest recorded crop yields, signaling potential price increases and industry consolidation ahead.

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West European potato production under severe pressure: NEPG highlights extreme weather and seed shortages

Europe’s potato harvest was negatively impacted by heavy rainfall, causing difficulties in harvesting and potential supply shortages in the NEPG countries – Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and France. Though yields were good, the wet weather left about 1.4 million tonnes unharvested, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium. NEPG warns of increased risks and costs for farmers, deteriorating potato quality, and escalating market prices. Concerns are also rising over seed availability for the Spring 2024 season due to a reduction in seed production.

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Surplus spuds: U.S. potato harvest hits new highs, causing sharp drop in producer prices

In 2023, US potato production soared by 9% to 20 million tonnes, the first increase since 2017. This surplus led to a significant drop in prices, benefiting food manufacturers. Enhanced growing conditions and expanded acreage in key states like Idaho contributed to this rise. The US, a leading global potato producer, also saw a 6% increase in exports, despite a decline in imports during the July-September period.

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Mintec: Wet harvest weighs on UK potato crop, leading to supply shortages and quality issues

In the UK, heavy rainfall during the potato harvest has led to a significant supply shortage and quality issues, causing prices to soar, writes market analyst Harry Campbell in a news story published by Mintec. The Mintec Benchmark Prices for English white packing potatoes and Maris Piper potatoes have risen sharply. Growers are struggling to fulfill contracts and are cautious about selling, leading to limited market activity. There’s also an increase in lower-quality potatoes unsuitable for long-term storage. This situation is expected to worsen into 2024.

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Challenging potato supply scenario in Ireland, plenty of crop still to be harvested in Europe

Irish consumers are increasingly turning to potatoes as a staple food, driving strong retail demand and home consumption, according to the weekly potato market report issued by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). Unprecedented rainfall and flooding have made this year’s harvest one of the most difficult on record. IFA reports that lifting progress on the European continent has been described as ‘minimal’ again this week and there is still plenty left in the ground.

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Potato retail sales in the U.S. surge in recent quarter despite volume fluctuations

In the third quarter of 2023, potato retail sales in the U.S. increased by 9.5% compared to the same period last year, as reported by Potatoes USA. Despite a slight 1.7% drop in overall volume sales, fresh potato sales remained stable. Notable growth was seen in canned, frozen, and instant potato categories in dollar sales. Fresh potato prices rose to $1.12 per pound, a 6.3% increase from the previous year. Despite some fluctuations, the overall increase in dollar sales highlights the enduring appeal of potatoes among consumers.

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Hungary’s potato production plummets further in 2023

In 2023, Hungary’s potato yield declined further to 161.5 thousand tons, continuing a downward trend from 2022. Economic challenges like high labor costs, irrigation issues, and unpredictable market demand are blamed. Imports and exports also fell, with a notable decrease in trade with France and the Netherlands. This led to a significant 45% increase in potato prices, impacting consumers and highlighting the sector’s struggles in the Hungarian economy.

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British growers warn of potato crop damage and soaring prices

Due to recent poor weather and devastating floods, there has been a significant reduction in potato supplies in Britain, leading to a substantial increase in prices. The spot price of potatoes is currently at least double the usual rate for this time of year. The floods have resulted in about 10% fewer plantings and 15-20% of the crop still in the ground, some of which won’t be harvested due to water damage. Similar problems are reported in major potato-growing areas in Europe.

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Irish and UK potato harvests face severe challenges amidst unprecedented rainfall

The Irish Farmers Association reports severe challenges in potato harvesting in Ireland and the UK due to excessive rainfall. Many areas have exceeded average annual rainfall, hindering harvest and increasing frost damage risk. In Ireland, heavy rains have exposed crops to frost, threatening significant losses. A few hard frosts at this point will wipe out entire crops. In the UK, particularly in the Midlands and northwards, several growers are facing the daunting task of lifting over 500 acres of potatoes.

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Global experts rally for sustainable food security solutions at symposium

At the Food Systems Transformation symposium, experts highlighted the urgent need for a strategic overhaul of global food security methods. The event, hosted by Agrico and SeedNL, emphasized the importance of sustainable, inclusive food systems and the role of strategic policy in leveraging food as a geopolitical asset. Discussions covered the necessity of local focus, innovation, and multi-stakeholder cooperation, with a special mention of Africa’s challenges in value addition due to trade laws.

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FIWAP and PCA report on challenges and trends in the European potato sector in latest market report

According to the latest FIWAP/PCA market report. the European potato harvest is lagging due to colder tubers making drying difficult. Belgium has 15-20% left to harvest, with varying percentages across Europe. The average potato yield is slightly down from last season but above the five-year average. On the futures market, potato prices remained stable, but the harvest delay and weather are causing market tensions in the European market, while North America is facing an oversupply.

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Potato surplus leads to massive spud dump in the Northwest of the U.S.

The Northwest is grappling with an unprecedented surplus of French fry potatoes, leading to a vast “spud dump” across the region. Favorable growing conditions and demand miscalculation are cited as causes. Now, massive amounts of spuds must be destroyed: 165,000 tons of them. This problem will likely carry over to next year’s farmers’ woes. That’s because 10% more potatoes from this year will be used next year by major potato processors.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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