The NEPG (Northwestern European Potato Growers) published the total harvest of the 5 most important potato producing countries. The total harvest amounted to 26,6 million tons, 11.4% more than last year and more than the 10-year average. This is mainly the result of higher yields per HA and a small increase in area.
At the moment prices are under pressure, because growers are selling potatoes, which are less suitable for storage. There will be a demand for good quality potatoes during the entire season, because the availability is small.
Belgium reports that a large part of the potatoes in storage in various regions have serious quality problems. Ten of thousands of tons had to be gotten rid of or were sold as fodder. The most important reasons are wet rot, early sprouting, low OWG and glassy potatoes. High temperatures during harvesting, problems when decreasing the temperature and late mildew are the most important causes. Also the frying quality is not very good. In other countries storage is mostly well controlled, although comparable storage problems have been reported from Northern France and the south-west of the Netherlands.
The present low prices are caused by oversupply by growers, who do not want to wait for the winter. The NEPG, however, sees opportunities. The season 2011/2012 may well last an entire month longer because of the early start, lots of activities at the processing industry with especially outside the EU, a good demand for ready product. And furthermore a high level of repudiations by processors, so quantities are sold as fodder or are even totally rotten and less oversized seed potatoes will be exported.
The instalment contract for potatoes for delivery April 2012 slowly increases. Some processors are already offering 70-80 Euro for delivery late spring. Based on this NEPG advises its growers to carefully follow the quality of the product in storage.
During the last NEPG meeting in Harrogate the Board Bia – The Irish Food Board – joined the meeting. Also in Ireland the supply by growers is sufficient because of a good harvest. Ireland grows potatoes on about 10,000 HA itself and imports Maris Piper and Markies for the chips trade, early Mediterranean potatoes from Cyprus and Italy and ‘baby’ potatoes from France and Israel. Potatoes for storage are grown in Ireland itself, preferably Irish varieties, such as Rooster and delivered ex field or from storage. Ireland only has a small processing capacity for chips.