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'Belgian industry intends to cut back on production'

The Belgian potato market is going to be different this year. "I have learnt that the Belgian industry is going to scale back on production", says Gino Martens of Martens Potatoes. He describes the situation as follows: "In the 'Interpom' period, the price rose from 20 to 25 euro. In January the industry made several deals with the retail sector based on the higher price. As a result of higher prices for chips, sales have stagnated. This has caused an excess stock of chips. This, in turn, means potato production is going to be scaled back." 

Four factors slowing down sales
He stresses that this is a forecast, but he supports this idea. "Market prediction is always difficult, but this is how I see the Belgian potato market situation at the moment." According to Martens there are four factors that are slowing the sale of frozen chips as compared to last year. "Firstly, there was a price increase in December, which put buyers off. Then, there's Brexit. It is not in effect yet, but is already making an impact. A large amount of chips are exported to England from West Flanders, and the pound has weakened considerably. This means consumers there pay more for chips. Thirdly, Brazil has increased import costs, which influences export volumes. Lastly, production has been moved forward and the new crop has not been harvested. These factors combined means the price has dropped back to 20 euro. The PCA has also reported that the stock price for free potatoes in Belgium is at a historic low. This is evident on the stock market, where prices are holding firm.

Market influenced by weather
What else is going to happen? "Much will depend on the weather conditions this spring. There are enough potatoes, but the mood of the market determines prices - and that is is determined by our spring weather. The Meetjesland region is in the northern part of the Belgian province of East Flanders, between Ghent and Brugge. "There are many more potatoes here and there has been noticeable expansion. There are many fields that used to be grassland, that have now been planted with potatoes. I estimate that there is an 15% increase in the number of potatoes in our region. How good the harvest is will, of course, depend on what kind of weather we have. Let's not make a forecast until next year."

For more information:
Gino Martens
Martens Potatoes
Butswervestraat 46
9990 Maldegem
Tel: +32 50 71 63 18
GSM: +32 495 26 15 09
Fax: +32 50 71 88 40

Publication date: 4/21/2017


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