Business Markets & Pricing COVID Leaves Questions for European Potato Market

COVID Leaves Questions for European Potato Market

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The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) is uncertain about the current potato market and is not expecting any major changes in demand over the coming weeks, the group says in a news release on Dec. 14.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing there to be little demand for free potatoes by the processing industry with prices extremely low, the release notes. Another threat is sprouting, which has been reported by the five leading potato countries in the area — this could change the supply situation in the coming months.

The European processing industry is currently working at 80 to 90 per cent of their normal capacity, which is set to continue until the European Horeca reopens. It is expected there will be fewer processing contracts signed for the 2021/22 growing year. The NEPG is predicting 15 per cent area will be-planted for potatoes.

“The continental producers are facing greater technical and economic risks and increased societal demand for sustainability. Producers would like to meet these desires but fear that the additional costs of meeting this extra demand will not be covered.”

There is one positive of the pandemic though, all NEPG countries are reporting an average 11 per cent increase in home consumption of fresh potatoes.

This season is the first where CIPC is not being allowed for anti-sprouting in Europe, and alternative protection isn’t working as well with not enough available, the release says.

“Growers are testing and experimenting however all NEPG countries report sprouting stocks. Storing has become much more expensive (amenities in storages, higher cost for the “new” anti-sprouting products, cost for the treatments) than it ever was, especially for the longer storage till the summer of 2021. The new anti-sprouting has become too expensive for the free potatoes marketed at the actual low-price level and is not feasible to use.”

Many free potatoes have already left the storage or will leave soon be exported, used as cattle feed, or sent to the starch industry or biogas, the release says.