Analysis Potatoes

Will dry days bring relief to the potato market?

June 21, 2024 - By our team of market reporters

In the potato market, emotion often drives price formation. This has been the case in recent weeks, with persistent rainfall, often in large quantities, extending the planting season and scarce, sometimes poor quality seed potatoes pushing prices to record levels.

Locally heavy showers fell again last week, but the prospect of drier weather brought some hope and relief to the market. Next week, it is expected that the last potatoes will be planted, especially in Belgium and the southern Netherlands.

The development of these late and very late planted crops will depend on the further course of the growing season. Will everything go smoothly from now on, or will summer strike again? The harvest will also determine the fate of the late to very late planted potatoes. Late harvesting can indeed cause stress, as we saw last autumn. Time will tell in the coming months.

It seems like stakeholders in the sector are in a neutral mode. Let's first see what actually grows. The spread of phytophthora is also a concern. However, experience shows that this does not improve the market price-wise.

At the moment, all factors influencing sentiment seem to be reflected in the market. The price for the April 2025 futures market contract is currently around the €40 level. Processors looking to physically secure potatoes from growers for week 17 of 2025 (week of settling futures market) are doing so at around €37 per 100 kilograms. This is done with growers who have their crops in good condition and are seeking further coverage, which can be achieved well above the already high contract price.

Processors are currently struggling to keep their production lines running, although you wouldn't say so considering the processing figures for last May. In a way, this is surprising, given that the problems with water damage and inability to plant were already evident then. Every effort is made to keep production going. Free potatoes from the 2023 harvest are being purchased for €60 and even more. Processors are looking within Europe (for example, Romania) and beyond (Egypt) for these purchases. This has not led processors to ease off the gas pedal, but to keep production running at full speed.