Analysis potatoes

Seed potato shortage barely affects Dutch export

April 29, 2024 - By our team of market reporters

The Dutch seed potato export within Europe is running just under 3% behind last season, according to figures from the Dutch Potato Organization (NAO). The seed potato shortage in tons is not directly reflected. This is despite the export figures being influenced somewhat by the average larger sizing of this year, which may result in a slightly higher outcome. Looking at the market demand worldwide, a significant decline is visible. The export of table potatoes is also lagging behind.

A total of 304,000 tons of seed potatoes have been exported to European countries until March 31. That is 2.8% less than last season at the same time. Compared to a month earlier, there is a significant difference: at that time, seed potato exports to Europe were actually ahead by 14.5%. According to various sources, this is largely due to buyers trying to secure their seed potatoes as quickly as possible. This is in light of the seed potato shortage, fearing they might not receive the desired tons later on. It was mainly the Southern European destinations that strongly pulled Dutch seed potatoes.

Larger sizing influencing exports
Given the above-average seed potato yield of the 2022 harvest and the below-average yield of last year (2023), the 3% export lag so far is manageable and somewhat remarkable.

It should be noted that the average sizing this season is significantly larger, which also affects the total export in tons. For example, a lot of 50/60 sizes find their way, while there is also a lot of cutting in the fry varieties. The export figures of the NAO include all sizing of seed potatoes that are certified by the NAK.

The largest buyer is Italy with over 55,500 tons of seed potatoes. This is already 4% more than the total volume last season, and the difference will further increase with April included. Germany purchased over 51,000 tons, which is almost the same as last year. The export to Belgium stands at 55,000 tons, a 21% decrease compared to last year. France also purchased 13% less with 27,000 tons of seed potatoes. The lower export to our southern neighbors is clearly reflected in the total export, as many European countries have taken approximately equal quantities as in other years, offsetting each other's gains and losses. Furthermore, it is noticeable that Spain has purchased 17% more so far.

The export to non-EU countries, such as Montenegro, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, is relatively stable at 48,500 tons in total compared to last season. The UK and Turkey purchased slightly more, while nothing was exported to Russia. This is in contrast to last year when 3,500 tons were exported to Russia until March.

Africa and Asia show significant decline in purchases
Overall, the seed potato export is significantly behind. This season, a total of 586,000 tons have been exported, compared to 694,000 tons last season during the same period. This represents a decrease of 15.5%. The export to Africa has already concluded, and the export to Asia is almost finished. There is a noticeable lag there. Africa purchased 31% less this season, with the export to Egypt almost halving in tons. Morocco and Algeria also significantly reduced their purchases. Asia has purchased 33% less so far, with the export to Iraq almost halved at 11,000 tons. Syria only purchased 3,600 tons, compared to 14,300 tons last season. Pakistan and Bangladesh also purchased nearly half the amount. The export to the American continent is slightly behind. Cuba, despite previous reports, has purchased the same amount of seed potatoes as the previous season.

Africa's impact also seen in table potato exports
The export of table potatoes is also lagging behind, according to the export figures from the NAO. Until March 31, 593,000 tons have been exported, compared to 657,000 tons last season. That is 10% less. This lag is partly due to the export to Africa. So far, 66,000 tons have been shipped, compared to 107,000 tons last season. Mauritania has significantly reduced its purchases to 8,000 tons from 21,000 tons last season, while Senegal and Ivory Coast have also imported significantly less. The export to European countries is also slightly behind, with a small 4% decrease, totaling 466,500 tons. Belgium is the largest buyer, purchasing 323,000 tons.


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