Bavarian potato wholesaler Matthias Stelzer on the current ware potato market

"Price increases of €4 to 5 per 100kg would be necessary to cover costs"

For the Bavarian potato sector, this year's season has been rather challenging so far. The reason for this is the extremely high grading due to discoloration, wireworm infestation, blight or shapelessness, as well as storage stability.

"Sales in food retailing have been a little weaker the last few weeks, but are currently picking up again somewhat. On the other hand, the acceptance of goods by peelers and manufacturers of dumplings was quite good before Christmas. Now, however, offtake is declining somewhat," reports Matthias Stelzer, owner of the Siegfried Stelzer company based in Königsmoos.

The potato storage hall with a total capacity around 6000 tons.

Volumes are probably available in the regional potato warehouses, but the marketable quantities are reduced very much after the preparation or washing process, according to Stelzer. Prices on the fresh market are currently at €18-20 per 100kg, peeled potatoes are traded at €13-15 per 100kg. "In other years, this price level would have been quite pleasing; in view of the circumstances and increased costs, a price premium of €4-5 would be necessary to cover costs."

The company has been based in Königsmoos, Bavaria, since the 1950s / Photo: Siegfried Stelzer e.K.

Noticeable drop in volume
Due to lockdowns and gastronomy restrictions, there has also been a considerable drop in volumes in the Bavarian potato sector, he said. Stelzer says, "2019 was a very good year for us, in contrast to which there was then a 35 percent drop in volumes in 2020 due to the pandemic. Last year, we were 50 percent behind the 2019 season in terms of volume."

Right: Stelzer is dedicated to trading washed and unwashed Bavarian table potatoes.

In addition to supplying the domestic market, a significant portion of Bavarian yields traditionally are exported. The export season is now in full swing, he said. "Our main sales market continues to be Southern and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, Italy has switched predominantly to French goods in this year's season," says Stelzer, explaining current conditions in the export business.

Packaged table potatoes in 2-25 kg containers are supplied, as well as raw goods packed loose and in big bags.

Reduction in acreage on the horizon
Stelzer is rather skeptical about longer-term variety development as well as the expansion of organic production. "We got out of the organic sector two years ago because the additional expenses were too big for us compared to sales." According to Stelzer, the lack of succession planning at many Bavarian potato farms is particularly worrying. "Unfortunately, we don't have the structures like Lower Saxony, for example. So far, the area under cultivation could still be kept stable, but from next year I already expect the first decline in production."

Images: Siegfried Stelzer e.K.

For more information::
Matthias Stelzer
Siegfried Stelzer e.K. Kartoffelgroßhandel
Ehekirchener Str. 23
86669 Königsmoos
Tel. +49 8433/226  

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