On June 6, 2019, the annual New Potato Day again took place at Maurer/Parat in Dirmstein in the Palatinate. In addition to market commendations by various experts in the industry, there was an exhibition of agricultural machinery, there were information stands from potato growers and crop protection manufacturers, as well as a trial field.
Potatoes: True all-rounders
After the official welcome speech by Maurer/Parat CEO Ludwig Hartmann, there was Hartmut Magin, the new chairman of the Association Pfälzer Grumbeere. He gave an assessment of the current situation on the part of producers in the region. The stocks are empty and people are hoping to get a good price. Often, there is criticism that the starting prices are too high. However, Magin supports the interests of the growers within the association. "I still wish for a good, open relationship with each other for the upcoming potato year."
He also emphasizes the versatility of tubers, which are a sound product, both conventionally as well as biologically. They are versatile, inexpensive and a vegan option: "We growers, marketers and processors can be proud of our work!"
Valentin Beckmann: "Whatever-you-want-season"
The potato storages are empty in Germany and Europe, after the historically small harvest in 2018 - a perfect marketing starting point for Pfälzer Frühkartoffeln, says Valentin Beckmann, potato expert from Maurer/Parat. "We did not have any stored potatoes early on, which was actually a good situation for foreign exporters, but they were not prepared for shortages such as we experienced." He spoke of a veritable "Whatever-you-want-season" for the Palatine growers, in a market that was previously "problematic to chaotic".
"My recommendation: sell, sell, sell!"
Ferdi Buffen fro Wilhelm Weuthen GmbH & Co., gave his assessment and tips for the upcoming marketing season for (early) potatoes.
"After a good start of the season last year, I wished it would not rain anymore before Christmas. Had I known how the year would continue , I would not have said this," Buffen jokes at the beginning of his speech. Despite the high prices, last year there were more losers than winners. And despite the scarcity of seed, industrial and table potatoes, in the end everything really came together. He convinced his colleagues from the potato industry to work together, so that this challenge could be met.
He advised the markets to exploit the excellent marketing window for Pfälzer early potaotes as best they can by July 25th. Unfortunately, in the long term, pricing in Europe is difficult to predict. "'Normal' is no longer something we see, only extremes," says Buffen. The prices are one of the major challenges for the industry in north-western Europe - and this with an increasing, global demand for processing potatoes.
The aim should be to continue to produce high quality food. Finally, he gave the visitors of the event one more piece of advice: "My recommendation for the next five weeks: sell, sell, sell!"
Visitors and experts satisfied
The event was characterized by a relaxed get-together and good exchanges. Both visitors and stand operators appreciated this. The Dobler couple, potato growers from Hatzenbühl, have been coming to Dirmstein for many years for this event: "We are happy to get more acquainted with new varieties and developments." Martina and Konrad Dobler are mainly cultivating later varieties and are looking forward to the upcoming season: "So far, we've gotten off to a good start to the season and we hope it will stay that way." Irrigation is very important as our potatoes grow on very light soils. Fortunately, we are able to irrigate without problems right now. That is not true for everyone. And who knows how long that will continue, there being more and more dry spells; that could be a real problem in the long run."