Challenging Summer Affects Potato Quality and Net Yields
In line with the latest North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG)’s report, the 2021’s summer is described to have been challenging regarding potato quality.
According to NEPG’s experts, potato production costs are seen as rising, and the exports of finished products are steady at a good level.
Recently, in their recent report, NEPG’s representatives wrote that it was one of the wettest and most difficult summers in decades.
“Northwestern Europe experienced one of the wettest summers in recent decades! In some regions in Belgium and the West of Germany, precipitation in mid-July reached an all-time high.”
Since mid-July, the late blight problems have been a constant concern for growers, and the costs of spray will also register at an all-time high level.
An increasing number of growers say their late blight outbreaks are more or less under control, but that they will somehow influence the season (lower net yields and/or quality issues).
Average Yields and Possible Quality and Storage Issues
Overall yields at the EU-04 level (Germany, Belgium, France, and The Netherlands or NEPG area) should be roughly equal to those of last year, i.e., 45 tons/ha, and slightly above the five-year average. Total production in the NEPG area is expected to be around 22.4m tons (produced on an area of 497,700 ha).
“There will be relatively large differences between the gross returns and net. And there are still a lot of uncertainties on the quality issues (rot, hearts hollows, crevices, low dry matter in some cases), but also the conditions of harvest and storage,” added the NEPG’s experts in their recently published document.
Costs, Increasingly Higher. COVID-19 Remains a Problem
The production costs of potatoes are increasingly higher (costs of spraying were above average in 2021, with risen energy costs for the storage in winter 2021-2022, etc.), and this will continue to be the case. Stronger prices for cereals and rapeseed, combined with higher potato production costs, could also have an influence on the sown potatoes in 2022.
The global COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing and will continue to weigh on potato markets and sales of processed products throughout the next marketing season.
“Nobody knows what the influence of the Delta variant will be […] in trade and world markets,” explained the NEPG representatives.
Increased Sales of EU Processed Potatoes
However, they added, since late spring and throughout summer, processors have worked at full capacity. Exports from the EU-27 (i.e., outside the Union) have been excellent in June (+63% compared to June 2020).
Total product sales of European processed potatoes increased by 13% comparing the season 2020/21 to that of 2019/20. There were significant variations in destinations and volumes exported during these 12 months.
Due to the boiling and dry summer in Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Near East, forecasted exports of fresh potatoes to the Mediterranean basin and possibly to Eastern Europe could be good.