Analysis Potatoes

Little sign of a seed potato shortage in the EU

June 24, 2024 - Niels van der Boom

From a shortage of seed potatoes, little can be seen within the EU. This is evident from figures from the Dutch Potato Organization (NAO). With almost all seed potatoes exported across national borders, the 'shortage' was significantly reduced by the end of May. The major shortages are mainly found in Asian and African destinations.

On May 31, the counter stood at 434,130 tons exported within the EU by the Netherlands. That is 26,750 tons less, or 5.8%. A considerable volume, but a smaller difference than you might expect given the large shortages this year. Thus, the shortage has slightly increased. A month earlier, the backlog was still 2%. In total, the Dutch seed potato sector exported over 718,000 tons. That is 16% (137,000 tons) lower than in the previous season and therefore significantly less.

Not everywhere less seed potatoes
Belgium imported 112,000 tons of Dutch seed potatoes by June 1. 7,500 tons less than in 2023 (-6.2%). Towards Germany, the volume has significantly decreased by 20,850 tons, a drop of 17.4%. France received 2,600 tons less seed material. The third on the list, Italy, saw an increase of almost 5,900 tons. Spain also received more seed potatoes.

The biggest decline in exports is visible in Asian and African countries. These export figures have not changed significantly compared to last month. The export season has ended. Exports to Asia decreased by almost 40,500 tons compared to 2023. For African countries, it is even 60,500 tons. Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan significantly reduced their potato imports. The same applies to Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. Conflicts are one of the reasons for this. On the other hand, Israel actually imported more seed potatoes.

Significant drop in consumption exports
The export of consumption potatoes from the Netherlands shows a similar decline this season. Until May, 744,263 tons were exported, which is 13% less than the previous season. Exports to EU destinations are behind by 60,000 tons. Belgium received about 10,000 tons fewer potatoes, and France 17,800 tons less. The export to Italy has more than halved, to 10,100 tons. Once again, it is the African countries that received significantly fewer potatoes. By May 31, the total stood at 69,000 tons, almost 44,000 tons less than the previous season. Exports to American countries are slightly lower by about 4,000 tons.

Niels van der Boom

Niels van der Boom is a senior market specialist in potatoes and other soft commodities at DCA Market Intelligence.
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