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Bart Nemegheer, Aardappelhoeve:

"Perhaps things won't end that badly for potatoes"

The potato market is undergoing a change. That's because weather conditions weren't ideal for harvesting and storing. "A lot of people harvested with far too high temperatures, between 20 and 25 degrees. In addition, due to the warm nights, cooling may have been done insufficiently, something to which certain varieties are very sensitive."

Many batches won't make it

He goes on: "This has caused a lot of problems in storage. The potatoes also age very fast. Industry reports they're already seeing browning levels they normally only see in February/March. A lot of ventilation has gone on to get them dry and to be able to store them well, but still a lot of batches won't make it and will rot after all. Those have to be disposed of or processed fast. With the better potatoes, you still see browning levels deteriorate fast."

Decent prices still possible
All these circumstances influence the market situation. "The futures market is already doing better now, and is starting to pick up a bit. That's a sign that there are people who buy them. It's possible that the industry is hedging itself. Quite a few volumes are also going to various export destination like Africa, so it is still running. Perhaps it won't end as badly as it looked. There are still a lot of potatoes now, but we could see decent prices at the end of the season. I definitely see opportunities for the good quality ones."

De Aardappelhoeve has a large volume of organic potatoes. "That's a completely different market, and it's going well. That price is also under pressure, but less so than the conventional market. Sales are fine, and demand is good. We are happy to have that market." Since 2005, Bart has been working with organic potatoes. "The demand was there, but the problem was consistent quality. Supermarkets wanted to include it in their range of products, but they couldn't offer consistent quality, and supply was still hit and miss then. Now there's really a steady market there."

For more information:
Bart Nemegheer
De Aardappelhoeve
Putterijstraat 7A
8700 Tielt - Belgiƫ
T: +32-477 291784
F: +32- 514 09501
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