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Crop Update

Posted on 09/04/2019

With over 3 months to go before we make the switch to the new crop, these are the most pressing questions facing ‘Potato Processing North Western Europe’:

1. Will there be enough old crop potatoes until the first early potatoes of the new crop become available?
Aviko may be well supplied of old crop potatoes, but how is the supply position of our competition? Lack of demand over the last few months has kept daily prices stable and we've even seen a slight decrease in prices in recent weeks, due to the weather and short-term pressure on the market. However, it only takes one major market player to experience a shortage to disturb this balance and push up the daily market prices.

2. Will we have an early spring?
Early February temperatures were very mild and the fields seemed to be ready for planting and sowing, but March showed its real face with decreased temperatures and lots of rain. Dry weather and nice temperatures during the first half of April will make all the difference and might result in early plantings and a quick and smooth development of the new crop. Alongside this, 100,000 tons of earlies are expected from 'Les Landes', an early area near Bordeaux which has been planted by Dutch and Belgian processors.

3. Will there be enough seed in the required sizes from the popular 'mainstream' varieties?
It seems the total available volume of seed is likely to meet the demand, however there might be some shortages of the most 'wanted' varieties.

4. Will NW European farmers be able to expand the potato acreage above last year's 595.587 ha, or will a tight supply and relatively high seed prices slow down the growth of the acreage?
Looking closely at the data of past years, we'd expect to see an increase of the EU-5 acreage of somewhere around 2,5% resulting in an EU-5 acreage of 610.476 ha.

5. Was last summer's high temperature and drought an exceptional incident, or will we face a repeat and can we speak of a real climate change?
This really is one of the biggest questions that we face as an industry and it is important to get ready for all eventualities. If the mild February and cold March has taught us anything it is to be prepared for the unexpected.

6. How much tonnes of potatoes will EU farmers harvest this year?
At this stage it is too early to tell, however looking at the averages over the last 10 years provides us with a good indication of what we can expect with the lowest EU-5 yield per ha averaging at 44,0 tons and the highest at 52,1 tons.

Potatoes continue to be both an exciting and challenging business! With the increased processing capacity and a continuing worldwide demand for frozen potato products, this volume might be rather close to a balance between supply and demand. 

For the next few months our focus will continue to be on the remaining volumes from the 2018 crop. Relatively high temperatures have caused some problems with the dormancy of the potatoes in storage and sprouting in the stores has been more active than normal during this time of year.

With everyone rolling up their sleeves, we will be ready and prepared to welcome in another challenging potato year.

Jan Willem Peters
Aviko Potato