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"We will have to go through a deep valley together"

Ferdinand Buffen: Current situation and market assessment for the 2020 harvest

Normally, the 31st Weuthen Potato Day would have taken place on the premises of the Rhineland trading company on Thursday, August 27. Due to Corona, the major event was cancelled. Managing Director Ferdi Buffen has therefore published his traditional harvest estimate online at the beginning of the main harvest.

Preliminary conclusion
"The import season for early potatoes for human consumption has been handled according to plan up until now. The marketing of early potatoes for human consumption from German growing regions was completed by the end of July with satisfactory revenues. Since the beginning of August, each region has been able to supply itself. There are early varieties that are still pushing onto the market now, especially in the Palatinate and Lower Saxony, and some of them have to be stored temporarily. The prices for these are well below the normal levels."

"Chips potatoes have so far been going according to plan. Sales in this segment are pleasingly positive. In the processing sector, marketing of the early and follow-up varieties was largely completed at the beginning of September. This is also due to the fact that yields in this segment were below average due to frost damage and drought. Nevertheless, free goods could still only be marketed at very low prices."

Flexibility, reliability and quality assurance
"The excellent infrastructure of the Rhineland has proven to be a great competitive advantage this year. Regarding the high-performance sorting systems; we were able to precisely match the needs and specifications of the plants, which gave us an enormous advantage."

How many potatoes will still be coming from the European fields in the next few weeks and, above all, how many will be available in the required numbers can only be assessed at the end of storage. According to today's estimates, the increase in area is partly offset by a mediocre yield. However, Buffen outlined that Bavaria in particular is expecting a good harvest and the eastern German states a somewhat better one than in previous years.

The current estimates of the harvest volume are as follows:
- Germany: 10.75 - 11.50 million tons
- EU 4+ GB : 26.00 - 28.00 million tons

Supply exceeds demand
"Without the Corona crisis and the resulting sales losses in the processing sector, the market would be balanced or rather short of supply and we would have a sufficient price level and a receptive market for free goods in the processing sector. The main harvesting and storage has not yet started. But we have to live with the stark reality that supply exceeds demand due to Corona."

Looking ahead
The potato sector must position itself for 2021 according to the changed demand situation, adjusting the cultivation areas. This would could be a negative for regions that are far away logistically, as well as uncompetitive locations. Buffen: "We, the highly specialized agricultural sector and the entire potato industry at home and abroad, are facing fierce competition and the resulting pressure on prices and margins along the entire value chain."

"We will have to go through a deep valley together, but in the medium term, the North West European potato industry with its excellent potato products is and will remain very competitive and will emerge from this crisis stronger than before."

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