The potato market is quite stable at the moment, says Frank Poelman, Dutch potato wholesaler Landjuweel's buyer. "Prices must increase here and there, though, else it'll become harder to convince growers. After all, high fries contracts are being offered and exports are going well," he says.
"The old crop's quality is still good, too. At the beginning of this year, there were still quite a few batches that were unsuitable for long storage in circulation."
"But now, we're into those batches that can be stored for a long time. Also, there seems to be enough volume available to reach season's end and connect well to the new crop," says Frank.
"The first new under-canvas potatoes were planted a few weeks ago, so that connection seems to be in place. The past few weeks haven't been particularly good growing weather."
"But the forecast looks much better starting next week, and spring will still last a good while. However, it's rained quite a bit in the southwest. It's so wet in places you have to wonder if the very early and later potatoes link will spill over well into the new season," Frank explains.
He adds that there is no question of a massive defection of growers for processing. "Seed potato growers in the neighborhood are choosing to grow ware potatoes, something you don't hear much of in the market."
Sales between the different varieties hardly differ, says Poelman. "In the Northern Netherlands, the traditional varieties like Bildtstar and Eigenheimer are still much preferred. Elsewhere, we sell all varieties mainly by cooking type - starchy or waxy. Organic potatoes are also fairly stable. People who regularly buy organic can afford those potatoes. We're planning to expand the organic share to further boost these sales," he explains.
This year, Landjuweel introduced microwave steam packs under its Le Bistro brand. This special ZipPop bag has a separate spice satchet that only opens in the microwave. "We've just started the line at Poiesz supermarkets and it's great to see the solid interest from local and overseas retailers. So, next week we have a promotion at Boni supermarkets with the new ZipPop packaging. We believe this innovation, a response to changing consumer preferences, has plenty potential," Frank concludes.
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