The top five European potato exporting countries are expected to produce 803 million cwt of potatoes for the 2021 crop, marking a seven per cent decline, the Oct. 21 issue of the North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says.
The report notes all five major potato exporting countries, Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium, are likely to harvest fewer potatoes this year. Potato growers in the regions planted less acres this year after receiving poor prices for the 2019 and 2020 crops.
“Excess rain and difficult harvest conditions have taken a toll on the quality of this year’s crop. Reports indicate that potato yields across Europe are below average,” the report says.
European potato production is expected to match the the three-year average, however the 2018 crop was disastrous. Total overall production in the European Union could drop four per cent from last year, while in the United Kingdom it could fall five per cent reports from the World Potato Markets say.
According to European publications approximately 60 per cent of the potato crop has been harvested. Growers in some areas have finished digging, while others are way behind. Rain in the forecast this week could slow the harvest more, NAPM notes.
“Reports indicate that yields are down from last year. This year’s crop is likely to have quality issues due to the damp conditions.”
Raw product supplies for European french fry plants are likely to be tight this year. NAPM says frozen product exports have surged despite shipping and logistical bottlenecks, while major processing regions in Canada and the United States are reporting significant yield reductions and quality issues.
“Quality is off for both the European and North American crops. Reduced raw product recovery rates will further cut into global french fry production.”
The report also says European potato growers could further reduce acreage in 2022. Sky rocketing input costs for fuel, fertilizer, chemicals and labour may encourage growers to plant alternative crops which require less capital and less risk.
“Growers are likely to increase grain production in response to some of the strongest grain prices in years. European farm organizations are encouraging producers to sign contracts for the 2022 crop only if they cover significant cost increases.”