The North-western European Potato Growers Association (NEPG) has said that the closure of the hospitality industry in Europe and the consequent drop in the demand for potatoes, estimated at between 50% and 60%, will mean that this season, the volume of potatoes processed in the continent will fall by more than 2 million tons.
Between 70 and 80% of all the raw material necessary for processing has already been contracted. A large part of those potatoes won't be processed as planned and the sector will have to find other sales channels. For now, the processing factories have stuck to their contractual obligations with the producers and will collect these tubers for the contracted price.
In all NEPG countries, the demand from the retail has increased for both fresh table potatoes and potato products. Furthermore, the export of fresh potatoes is at a medium-high level, and there are even some difficulties in finding enough trucks and drivers. However, this additional demand is not enough to absorb the entire remaining harvest in 2019, as not all varieties are suitable for use as fresh table potatoes for domestic consumption or export.
Not only do growers and the processing industry have huge financial challenges, but they also wonder how to deal with all those good potatoes in a sustainable way.
Reduced acreage: the only solution
As cold rooms fill up with potatoes up to the ceiling, and without knowing when restaurants will reopen (not to mention outdoor events, where, for example, a lot of potato chips are consumed), reducing the acreage this season looks like the only solution, as stated by the NEPG in a press release.
However, the fields were already rented, the seeds were already bought or delivered, and the sowing began in late March, making such a reduction impossible. However, the NEPG expects that the potato acreage in its 5 countries will be reduced by 5%, which is considered insufficient.