After two years marked by the pandemic, the potato market is returning to consumption levels from before the crisis. In its first press conference of the year, UNPT presented the prospects for the 2021/2022 campaign marked by a revival of the market, production costs on the rise, as well as challenges for the sector in terms of regulatory and phytosanitary changes.
As a direct consequence of the lockdowns, consumption slowed down in the past two years due to the closure of nearly all out-of-home catering, difficulties with large exports and a slower activity of the French factories. The fresh market experienced a “small boost” thanks to the higher household consumption, but this did not compensate for the loss observed in the processing sector. There was a slight improvement in 2021 with more traditional consumption trends on the fresh market and a general increase in household consumption for processed products made from potatoes.
The starch sector has been reporting complicated yields for 3 years already. The excessive stocks of 2020 led to a drop in prices. The 2021 yields are slightly up but disengagement from some producers and a decrease in surface areas are feared for 2022/2023.
2021/2022 campaign: back to pre-crisis consumption trends
UNPT has announced a return to pre-crisis consumption trends for the 2021/2022 campaign, but in a context where production costs are particularly high.
“The fresh produce campaign is slightly below 200 euros [227 USD], which is higher than for the previous campaign. Regarding the factories/processing, the campaign level is maintained. Some quotations are slightly higher than what the contracts offer, which indicates an active demand on this market, as well as a revival of the processing activities.”
“In terms of prospects, the Covid crisis is giving us a little break and allowing us to resume the initiated trends but it seems important to be able to consolidate the attractiveness and competitiveness of the potato sector.”
Protection solutions that are increasingly limited
With the rising production costs and the restrictions on protection solutions, the potato sector is faced with the competition from other agricultural productions - rapeseed, wheat, sunflower. UNPT is therefore warning about the “decrease in the authorization of molecules that disappear without necessarily having replacement solutions”, and about the resistance phenomena resulting from this. Producers have managed to adapt to the ban on CIPC, but other solutions like Mancozeb or Flonicamid have not found alternatives yet. UNPT is also concerned about the pollinator plan, reminding us that potatoes “are not an attractive crop!”.
The sector is also worried about another issue, namely irrigation. UNPT notes that “the approach taken when it comes to the restrictions, in terms of both time and volumes, mean that from the 1st of July, we would not be able to irrigate anymore, while it is exactly when the potatoes need it the most, during the peak of their growth period.”
For more information:
Loïc Le Meur