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Analysis Potato

Potato price super stable, new season exciting

May 17, 2024 - By our team of market reporters

The price for potatoes also turned out to have a very strong and stable undertone this week. For immediate demand, processors can still help themselves. Furthermore, they try to radiate as much calmness as possible in the market.

Belgapom clearly signals that the market is firmly set for immediate delivery. Due to shifting contract stocks, but also because processors deliver potatoes to each other, the market seems stable. The real fireworks seem to be saved especially for the months of June and July. Different processors will each have their own fireworks and set them off. Some Dutch processors have a sparkler, but there will also be some Dutch and Belgian processors who have a firecracker in the shed.

As mentioned, for direct co-delivery kilos are mainly settled in the range of the different quotations. For later on and the end of the potato season, there is clear demand, with prices being offered significantly higher than the current quotations.

For the month of July, €50 has already been paid for Fontane and there is still interest. Especially Belgium is the main driver and in the Netherlands, it is the trade that buys for that purpose, among other things. It seems logical that the Belgians have the most concern. Last autumn, they were hit hardest by potato losses due to extreme harvest conditions. But this spring, they are again the most affected in the EU-4 due to extreme weather.

Belgium is furthest behind in the area of potatoes that have been planted, and due to extreme showers, fields have already been written off for the new season. The quantity of early potatoes and the availability date will then (as it seems now) be the most scarce. Germany seems to have fared the best this spring. The early ones were planted fairly on time and the growth is good. There has also been much less extreme weather than in the Belgian early cultivation areas.

Connection is tight
There is therefore fear of a repeat of last year in the connection between the old and new season. It should be noted, however, that June last year was an extremely dry and hot month. To ensure a supply of potatoes, there is interest in fries potatoes that can be stored for a long time. The problem is that there are very few free potatoes in the market. Many potatoes are contracted and therefore no longer for sale. Buying 'just' 20,000 tons of free potatoes for June/July is very difficult in the current market. The 'real' free grower (with mechanical cooling) will once again be greatly rewarded for their courage and daring in the increasingly regulated potato market.

While there are concerns about the connection, there are just as many concerns for next season in terms of availability and volume. The extreme weather is taking a toll on the yield capacity of many potato fields. The poor soil structure from last year's poor autumn will leave its mark on the yield. Furthermore, many potato growers and seed potato suppliers are worried about the emergence and growth potential of the planted seed potatoes. Planting with physiologically old seed potatoes in poor structure and often also cut seed potatoes is a harbinger of many emergence problems. Some crop advisors already expect more than 25% (emergence) problems with cut seed potatoes that have already been planted. This will therefore also lead to yield loss.

The only thing that can give hope is if the growing season will actually be conducive to growth. In case of (again) extreme weather conditions (drought and/or extreme rainfall), the five-year average yield will still be far away. This also explains why the new harvest on the futures market rose further towards €33 this week.

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