Belgium: potato harvest nearly 30% bigger than multi-annual average

On Friday afternoon, following the closure of the futures market, PCA and Fiwap announced the 2014 harvest figures. Thanks to the exceptional growth this season (56.2 tonnes per ha), combined with the acreage expansion (7%), the total potato harvest amounts to 4.58 million tonnes, over 900,000 tonnes more than in the 2013 harvest year, and on average 1 million tonnes more when calculated over the harvest years 2009-2013. In the 2011 record harvest year, 4.15 million tonnes was harvested. The Bintje variety is still leading in Belgium, with a total harvest this season of 2.45 million tonnes. Harvest of other varieties, which saw the acreage increase a lot over the past years, amounts to nearly 1.8 million tonnes.

Thanks to the huge harvest, the amount of free potatoes is bigger than expected. All in all, 2 million tonnes of potatoes (400,000 tonnes more than average in the 5 previous years) are still to be sold in the free market. The remaining part (over 2 million tonnes) was cultivated under a contract. The total potato supply is estimated at 3.3 million tonnes in early November, no less than 780,000 tonnes more than the average over the past 5 years, but also 300,000 more than in 2011. Reports from PCA/Fiwap say that of the total harvest (including early potatoes), 1.24 million tonnes has been delivered. That is a consequence of having problematic batches where storing is concerned.

That processors are having a hard time keeping up with the potato supply is an understatement. As a result, the current market price has gone down to almost zero. Both PCA/Fiwap and Belgapom only have a price tag of € 1.50 per 100 kg ex. VAT for all potato varieties (Bintje, Fontane, Challenger etc.), with the Belgapom commission calling the mood lacklustre again for the first time in weeks.

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