Total consumption potato area in north-western Europe, specifically in the North-Western European Potato Grower (NEPG) area, has been estimated at 578.821 ha, which is 4.6 per cent more than last year and 8.3 per cent more than the five-year average.
All five countries (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) increased their potato area with Belgium on top with 5.4 per cent.
This is based upon the NEPG country estimations. The NEPG emphasizes this does not automatically mean the harvest will increase also as the yields per hectare are more important for the final harvest than the area.
Due to the growth of processing capacity and the export of ready product outside the EU, the NEPG estimates there will be an additional need for raw material of around 750,000 tons for next season. In Belgium especially, the processing capacity is expanding, so the extra area here is in line with the increased demand.
According to the NEPG, it is still too early to estimate a total harvest. Over the past few weeks, it has been extremely dry, with irrigation restrictions. The upcoming harvest of the Belgium early processing varieties is estimated to be 20 to 25 per cent less than last year.
In spite of the drought, the main crop is in good shape, especially in the UK. With the actual returning of the rain showers there is secondary growth reported which will be monitored carefully.
The weather and growing conditions in the coming weeks will be the determining factor, realizing that most of the kilos are growing in July and mainly August. At this moment all scenarios are possible.
By the middle of August the NEPG will do a more specific estimation based upon trial digs.