The European storage potato market has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and this will have consequences for other segments, both in the fresh potato supply chain and in the processing industry.
Faced with this situation, the sector, represented by COPA (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organizations) and COGECA (General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union), has sent a letter to the European Commission proposing different solutions.
Both committees are asking the Commission to provide support to the sector in the form of a budget derived from the CAP budget and to consider introducing temporary exceptional support measures for the European potato sector.
They also request that the European Commission activate articles 219 and 221 of the single CMO regulation in order to guarantee a better organization of the potato supply chains and allow them to prepare for any problems that may arise once the containment measures in the EU and in third countries are lifted.
COPA and COCEGA also ask the European Commission to back the private storage of frozen potato chips obtained from potatoes under contracts, on the condition that the processors agree to immediately restart their production lines at maximum capacity and that storage potatoes are withdrawn from the market, as there is no market for the surplus. This must extend to early potatoes, as producer organizations, such as cooperatives, will suffer market disruptions caused by storage potatoes, given the prolonged containment measures.
Arnaud Delacour, Chairman of the COPA-COCEGA Potato Working Group, says that "the losses caused at EU level by the COVID-19 crisis are estimated at more than 400 million Euro, and to this we must add the loss in value added due to the absence of trade, processing, the hospitality sector and other channels. The financial reserves of agricultural producers are depleted, since last year was already terribly bad for our sector, which had to deal with extraordinarily dry weather conditions. We need liquidity and government loan guarantees if we want to overcome this difficult crisis. All measures launched by the European Commission require a coordinated and rectified approach by the 27 EU Member States; otherwise, there is a risk of distortions in the internal market."