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World upside down in potato trade

“Price for processing varieties will not fluctuate much till spring”

“Good prices are currently given on the potato market, and I do not expect that will change soon. The high prices could persist until spring for industry strains in particular,” according to Jan van Luchene from Bruwier Potatoes. “It might be different for the fresh market, but the price for industry strains will probably not decrease soon.”

Fresh versus industry
According to Van Luchene, there are many stories about the possible shortage of potatoes. “Cultivators consider these stories when selling the potatoes.” He indicates that the situation is remarkable. “You often see prices on the fresh market that are higher than those on the industry market, but demand on the fresh market is very low right now. Consumption strains for the fresh market are currently selling cheaper.” This is caused by a combination of factors. “First of all, demand is low, and besides, the strains concerned are meant just for the fresh market, and not the industry market. Demand from industry is somewhat better, but before cultivators can supply that market, they first have to make sure they can meet all of their contractual volumes. Because of the low yields of this season, that is no sinecure for every cultivator. Many have contracted more than they harvested. Those people will not be happy.”

Planting the new harvest early or late will also become a deciding factor, according to Van Luchene. “I do not see the market changing until then. Imagine if we have a late spring, we will certainly keep those 25 euro at least. It could possible even increase. If we have a regular planting date, it will be more difficult to predict. I would not feel comfortable saying it will all be all right.”

World upside down
There is also import from other countries right now. “Potatoes arrive from Germany, the UK and Poland. Industry is not standing still, they are looking for solutions, and get their products elsewhere. The harvest in Western Europe was bad in general, but good in Eastern Europe. But they have less money for it. It truly is an upside down world this year: instead of west to east, we go from east to west this year. The primary reason for this is the price ratio.”

Hardly any export
In October’s Primeur, Van Luchene said he did not expect a busy free market early in the season. “And that has come true. Demand is disappointing. There is hardly any export because we are too expensive, and we are also offering a product with lesser quality for that money. The price is very high compared to other European regions, so something will have to happen in order to get rid of the expensive export strains. It is already happening that cultivators who had high prices last month, have already lowered those prices in order to so something. They can feel it is going to be more difficult than expected. It is still a lot of money that they receive, but it is not the industry price.”

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