NEPG: Potato Stocks Lower than the Average of the Last Five Years
The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) announces that the current stocks of ware potatoes are significantly lower than last year or the average of the last five years.
The 2018 harvest in the “big five” (EU-05) was 17.8% lower than in the previous year. In the first part of the storage season, there have been many quality and conservation issues related to the phenomenon of regrowth (glassy, floating, …) in sensitive varieties, according to the association. Most of the lower quality potatoes or those at risk were transformed before Christmas. The rest of the potatoes in stock is generally of good quality, although some problems (dry or wet rot, germination) are reported, NEPG comments.
The planting period will be crucial and NEPG expects the current high level of prices to be maintained throughout the winter and the spring. The beginning of the plantations could however change the atmosphere of the market in April. The market situation could change as producers should supply the processing industry from existing lower stocks. On the other hand, a very early spring could put the high level of prices under pressure. At present, courses at EUR300/t seem to be the minimum price charged on the continental free market.
The NEPG notes, for the four continental countries, a lack of seed potatoes, mainly for processing varieties. Without a signed contract, it can be very difficult to obtain plants for an individual producer. Despite rising contract prices on the continent for processing varieties, the 2019 area of the NEPG can not increase much more due to the lack of plants. Dual-use varieties, from the fresh market or even from starch industry, could be used for processing. This has already been the case for months in order to meet the needs of processors due to low yields in 2018.
In some countries, like France, shipments (Southern Europe, Eastern Europe) are dynamic, even though it is more difficult to export abroad because of high prices.
The summer of 2018 was particularly dry and hot and many producers (except in Belgium where there is little irrigation) had to irrigate their fields. It has been three years in a row that the reserves and the ground water level in all NEPG countries was below the 10-year average. If there is no raining or snowing significantly in the next two months, the necessary water supply is at risk of being insufficient during the next campaign, the association says.
For all countries, contract prices have increased, most often between 10 and 30%, but the production costs have also increased. Not only is the price of seedlings much higher, but the costs of energy, fertilizers and phytosanitary products are also higher than last year.