North-western European Potato Growers issues late blight warnings for the 2023 potato harvest

In the most recent update from North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG), released on 11th September, initial yield estimates point towards a return to multi-year averages. The EU Commission has re-adjusted yields upwards since the August update by 1% to 34.7 t/ha, 2% above the five-year average but lower than the 2022/23 crop by 2%. NEPG estimates that production will reach approximately 23 million tonnes, marking a 1.3 million tonne increase compared to 2022 and aligning closely with 2021 figures, this is due to the increased planted areas which are up 2.5% in NEPG countries.

However, there are concerns regarding the significant impact of late blight on this year's harvest. NEPG has issued a warning to growers, urging them to assess the situation in their fields and establish communication with buyers to address and mitigate the challenges posed by late blight. In August, there was an uptick in yields but also elevated levels of blight. Notably, certain varieties, like Fontane and Challenger, typically planted later in the season, may face constraints in reaching their full growing potential unless left in the ground until mid-October.

There is an anticipation of rising demand in the coming months. Regions in Southern Europe and Poland have experienced production shortfalls. This has increased competition among buyers vying for potato supplies, and exports have already started. The Mintec Benchmark Prices for Dutch processing potatoes [Mintec Code: PO29] were assessed at €14.75/100kg on 19th September, down 37% y-o-y after the delayed harvest became available and news of a larger crop than last year.

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