Aug 11, 2023Global market grapples with variety of issues
The global potato market is grappling with conditions including high prices, weather woes and lack of supply, according to a report compiled by produce news site FreshPlaza.
A dry spell and low yields are combining with environmental directives to address nitrogen levels to depress trade, though the growing chip industry is causing contract prices to rise.
Severe drought and high temperatures are lowering yields, with one Belgian packer telling FreshPlaza that harvesting has just begun. Pierre Lebrun, director of the Walloon Potato Sector Association, told Belgian newspaper La Libre that hopes of a bumper crop in June have faded as growers of late potatoes await rain.
High prices continue to be the norm, driven by lack of rain at the start of the season and now hampered by prolonged precipitation that has prevented the use of crop protection products. The harvest is now likely to start at the end of this month or early September, a wholesaler from North Germany told FreshPlaza.
Last year’s production deficit continues to affect the market, where demand is outpacing supply and driving up prices. Spanish potatoes are being imported to satisfy processing sector needs, FreshPlaza reported, with French growers hoping for good weather as production intensifies.
The UK is seeing prices gradually increase with a reduction in planting. While early potatoes in England suffered from drought, one grower told FreshPlaza later potatoes should be good, though yields have been variable in early harvesting. The main harvest in Scotland begins in September, with lower volume expected as growers exit a market depressed by big retail purchases, inflation and Brexit, a Scottish grower said.
A 25% to 30% drop in production in Emilia Romagna, a main growing region, has led to strong demand and rising prices. Quality is very good, though, with none of the insect issues of the past two years and low spoilage.
A potato sector representative told FreshPlaza that 20% of the harvest has been completed in Castilla y Leon. France, Belgium and the Netherlands imported large quantities of the country’s early varieties.
Volume is increasing but remains lower than last year, with skyrocketing prices as growing regions are still harvesting. Fewer hectares of table potatoes have been planted for this season, with power cuts have dampening irrigation capabilities and leading to less planting.
Production is up in the north and south and on China’s Central Plains, FreshPlaza reported, with the first new potatoes arriving on the market. Prices are lower with increased supply.
The new crop has begun in some regions, including Delaware, Minnesota and Quebec. Production is about to start in Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Massachusetts and the Eastern Canadian provinces. One shipper told FreshPlaza expectations are for a good crop on both the East and West coasts. Demand remains high even in the face of high prices, with increasing supply expected to lower prices.