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Bart Nemegheer, De Aardappelhoeve:

"Current contract prices would make it practically impossible to keep growing potatoes in Belgium"

"There are plenty of potatoes coming from Spain at the moment," says Bart Nemegheer of the Belgian De Aardappelhoeve. "Everyone's busy with their main harvest, and this year's quality is exceptional, especially from the Seville region."

According to him, the stormy weather hardly affected the Spanish potato season. "The abundant rain has made for poorer quality, but only in Cartagena. Overall, however, the season looks very good," Bart says.

Organic potato harvesting is currently in full swing in Spain too. "Here, too, the yields are good, and the quality excellent. We've received beautiful, top-quality potatoes." He says Europe's organic share remains stable and may even be growing slightly. "Europe wants to use its Farm-to-Fork strategy to get to a 30% organic share by 2030."

"We'd like to see that share rise faster, but due to the current crisis, consumers are more price-conscious and cautious with spending. That also affects organic potatoes, as they're slightly more expensive. But, we generally cannot complain," continues Bart.

He assures us that the ever-increasing costs are not yet driving growers, en-masse, toward grain farming. "The potato acreage even increased slightly last year. Demand is good, so everything kept going well, despite the pandemic. Potato product exports also continued to be successful. Demand is and will remain there. However, the increased costs mean contract prices will have to be raised to remain future-proof. Prices staying as is would make it practically impossible to continue growing potatoes."

On the sales side, Nemegheer sees processed convenience products' popularity climbing. "They're especially trendy among young consumers. This group is increasingly opting for easy-to-use, pre-cooked products," he explains. "It's a growing market to which traders will have to respond. Nevertheless, I firmly believe there'll always be room for fresh potatoes."

De Aardappelhoeve's The Potato Chef brand responds to this convenience trend. "We offer a wide variety of pre-cooked, tasty potato products, thus offering people a choice. It's also a solution for our residual flows. The fresh market is very strict with sorting. If there is slight damage or a spot, the potatoes are immediately discarded. That's a shame, for sure, but we can use those potatoes for our The Potato Chef products. This way, we can upgrade these potatoes to products for daily consumption," Bart concludes.

For more information:
Bart Nemegheer
De Aardappelhoeve
7A Putterij Street
8700, Tielt, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 477 291 784
Email: bart@deaardappelhoeve.be        
Website: www.deaardappelhoeve.be       


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