Due to the problems with drought of recent years and the corresponding harvest losses in the potato industry, many growers decided to expand their existing cultivation areas. However, the subsequent additional volumes have led to a considerable oversupply on the potato market. Particularly in this Corona-related marketing year, with a lack of demand in the catering sector and large-scale consumption, the oversupply is noticeably depressing the market, says Johann Schmidt, a potato trader in Dinkelshausen, Bavaria.
View of the Schmidt company potato warehouse.
The harvest of the medium-early food varieties has almost been brought in: As reported by the Bavarian State Office for Statistics in Fürth, the potato harvest this year is 15 percent above the long-term average. Some 1.9 million tons of potatoes can be harvested in Bavaria. This means that for every inhabitant of the state, there are about 145 kilos of local potatoes. "A slightly above-average harvest, of good quality," says Schmidt. The prices are nevertheless far below average: on average, industrial and peeled goods fluctuate around 5 euros/100 kg, with table ware hovering around 6.5 euros/100 kg, depending on the variety.
Johann Schmidt manages the Bavarian family-owned company, providing both table ware and industrial potatoes.
Area expansion & oversupplies
According to Schmidt, the current low prices are clearly due to the rapid expansion of acreages in recent years. "In these times of climate change, the potato industry is struggling with droughts and corresponding harvest losses almost every year. For this reason, the areas under cultivation in almost all major potato growing regions in Germany have been considerably expanded in recent years."
In this exceptional year for Corona, a substantial part of the stocks - both industrial and table potatoes - will probably not be needed at all, because sales in the catering trade and in large-scale consumption have come to a partial standstill. The consequences of the crisis are also being felt in exports, the Bavarian wholesaler explained. "We export a lot of goods to Italy, as well as oversized potatoes to Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Oversized goods have been sought after in recent years and therefore well paid. This year it is exactly the other way round and the prices are accordingly in the low range."
Modern range of varieties
Despite the difficult conditions in the current potato industry, Schmidt believes in the potential of the Bavarian potato. "Our range of varieties is constantly being developed in line with the latest trends, both in food varieties - such as Gala, Queen Ann and Belmonda - and in industrial varieties such as Agria and Fontane. Nevertheless, resistant potato varieties are still in demand."
According to Schmidt, the biggest challenge in the near future will continue to be the problem of quantity. "The area under potato cultivation simply has to be reduced, because with this kind of pricing, it is becoming hard to even cover production costs. Unfortunately, existing large-scale enterprises are becoming larger still and the market conditions are getting more difficult."
For more information:
Schmidt Agrarhandel GmbH
Tel: 08435 / 16 92
Fax: 08435 / 16 90
Mobile: 0171 / 6 42 22 75