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Jan Van Luchene, Bruwier Potatoes:

"High expectations for potato season not met"

It is very quiet in the potato sector, both on the supply and demand side. Most of the potatoes have now been harvested, much later than usual. Jan van Luchene from Bruwier Potatoes says in the 22 years that he has worked in the potato sector he has never seen such a late harvest, "We harvested the last potatoes on November 4th, I cannot remember this ever happening before. Everything was pushed back this season."

Normal harvest
Jan says that the expectations for July and August were not met, "At the time we thought that we would have a poor harvest, but September was a very good month for us. In terms of volume we could call it a normal harvest." In terms of quality there were some bumps, "We had a number of problems, including: low OWG (underwater weight), mechanical damage, and small sizes, to name a few. Considering those blunders this was not the best year for us. In addition, the current warm weather does not help the stored potatoes."

Stable market
According to Jan, the market is stable, "Supply is meagre and there is not much demand either, so things are stable right now. The price is moderate. There is no export going to Eastern Europe as we had hoped at the beginning of the season. There is not much movement. No matter who you call in Europe everyone has their own supply of potatoes and they are all around the same price level. Transporting the potatoes costs too much right now." Van Luchene can live with the situation, "Imagine that supply did come, it would not be the best quality, and you don't want to start the export season with low quality."

Not much demand
Jan believes that the high expectations from the summer were not realistic, "I look at the facts. All in all I see little demand, from both industry and export. Little will change until January, I think. Everyone expected a price increase after the storage period, but for that to happen you need demand, and there is not enough demand at the moment." According to Jan, the situation is similar to 2013: poor growing weather during spring and summer, and then improved conditions in September which gave people false hope and very high expectations. 

For more information:
Jan van Luchene
Bruwier Potatoes n.v.
Galgestraat 1A
B-8790 Waregem
T +32 56 61 33 33
F +32 56 61 30 33

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