"The mood on the potato market is developing positively at the moment," says buyer Frank Poelman of potato wholesaler Landjuweel from Oosternieland. "January is traditionally a good potato month. After the festive season, many people are starting to eat the normal vegetables with meals again and supermarkets are running the necessary promotions. This ensures a good start of the year in potato sales."
"Prices were stable for most of the season, but now the chip market in particular is showing an increase and the table potato market is also notching up a plus in its wake. The stock exchanges regularly show half a cent more and the futures market has risen to 22 cents," continues the buyer. "This has several causes. The acreage is a lot lower this year and with the average yields you end up with a lower yield."
Michiel Meijering and Frank Poelman of Landjuweel
"Moreover, the failure rate is quite high. In chip potatoes, hollowness is a point of attention, while in the table potatoes there are many green potatoes. There are not that many peaks between the different varieties. Internally, the potatoes are generally fine, but especially in the firm-boiling varieties, there are a lot of potatoes with green. There are lots with 20-25% tare," continues the buyer.
"These are favourable factors for pricing. Demand is particularly strong in the chip industry and you often see that one market attracts the other. There is therefore a good chance that the table market will also rise. It is still speculative, but it is possible that the chip factories will start using suitable table potatoes. All in all, the mood is very positive, but this situation hasn't materialised yet. If you talk to exporters, there is no rush yet either, although they do expect more demand from Eastern Europe."
According to him, sales of organic potatoes have been fairly stable in recent years. "It was a phytophthora-sensitive year and because of the lower yields the prices are firm. There also doesn't seem to be too many of the traditional varieties, such as Bildtstar, Eigenheimer and Irene, which are particularly popular in the north of the country. But growers may be holding their cards close to their chests in the hope of a further increase in price."
"At the same time, you hope that growers do not wait too long to sell. The price can also get too high, causing sales to stagnate. If the weather is nice in the spring, few people will have potatoes on the menu five times a week. Much will depend on the spring. Whether we can plant and harvest on time can determine whether the season lasts eleven or thirteen months. We will know at the end of the season."
His colleague Michiel Meijering from sales is also positive about the situation on the potato market. "In fact, the last two years have been very good for potatoes. In 2020, due to the COVID measures, we saw a huge increase in potato sales at retail and we are still holding on to those sales nicely now, as the units sold are holding up well."
"At the beginning of the COVID crisis, there was a bit more price pressure from the retail sector and this is now also stabilising. That is good for everyone. With a stable consumer price and a relatively high purchase price, the entire chain can benefit. Because although the promotional pressure is lower, the numbers remain at the same level and that is a very nice development. "Another positive development is that online sales are beginning to take serious shape. At the end of 2019 it was not yet at 3%, but now it is stable at 6%. We can respond well to this with our private label."
Le Bistro speciality potatoes
At Landjuweel, we also see that our sales are rising above the market, so we are very satisfied," Michiel continues. "The sales of the traditional varieties under our 'Jongens van de Klei' brand are stable and doing well. We are also investing heavily in Le Bistro, a convenience line of specially cultivated varieties with various applications, aimed at the future customer. We will soon be testing our new line at a number of shops of the supermarket Poiesz to see which application catches on best with the various target groups."
"We are also seeing interest in Le Bistro from Germany, traditionally a fairly traditional market. Whereas German supermarkets used to choose French potatoes with a different dish or colour for their specialities, our product is now also on the German shelves. In addition, German supermarkets are also increasingly focusing on sustainability and, given all the efforts we have made in recent years, we can respond well to this. All in all, great developments that we are proud of."