Evaluating the yield figures published by different national sources, it seems likely that the EU-5 production will end up between 23.5 and 24 mio tons. Taking into account that EU-5 production was around 29.6 mio tons in 2017, NEPG's estimate of a 20% less output on last year does seem realistic.
However, it is difficult to compare this year's production with last year's record high productions. Instead, it is better to compare the estimated 2018 production of around 23.75 mio tons against the five-year average of 26.4 mio tons - which shows the EU-5 shortage is likely to be about 10% lower than the average.
As the EU-5 processing capacity is unstable it makes it very difficult to calculate an accurate shortage for 2018. During the last five years the EU-5 processed volume has increased by 14.5% and the still increasing processing capacity requires more potatoes every year. With this in mind, we think the realistic shortage of the 2018 crop is likely to be between 3 - 3.5 mio tons.
Availability and Quality
The late processing of the new crop potatoes this year has helped to reduce the shortage issues, however the moderate quality of many potatoes in store is likely to bring its own problems in 2019.
Our main concern at the moment is not the availability of the potatoes, but the quality. Alongside smaller potatoes, there are secondary growth-related problems to be aware of such as the unequal division of dry matter in the tubers and partly glassy potatoes that could result in bad frying colours, sugar tips and cooking issues.
The high April 2019 futures market price is an indicator of the commonly shared opinion about the tight potato supply in North-western Europe, making it integral that we do process every usable potato available.
The 2018 crop may bring with it many challenges for the new year, but it also spurs us on as a company to put our problem-solving skills to the test and find new innovative solutions to help for the future. Be sure to check our crop update throughout next year to see what insights we uncover.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2019 to you all.
Jan Willem Peters