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Lower NEPG production expected despite higher area

Publication Date: 
23 September 2016

The NEPG* estimates a total potato harvest (exc. seed and starch) in 2016 of 24.9Mt, against 25.3Mt in 2015. In spite of an overall area increase of 4.8% compared with last season, production is expected to be 1.6% lower. However, there are enormous variations in yields and quality across the NEPG, by area and also by variety. It’s been reported that harvest is behind schedule with many potatoes still in the ground in most NEPG countries. This increases the risk of harvesting in poorer conditions and makes it difficult to forecast with certainty.

Within the overall production figure, Germany is still expecting an average to good harvest. The largest decline year-on-year is expected to come from Belgium, in spite of the large area growth of more than 12%. Elsewhere, production is also expected to be lower, including for Great Britain if yields return to average. The first production estimate for GB will be available later in the autumn.

Higher wastage levels

The level of outgrades is expected to be higher than typical (particularly due to growth cracks and greening, but also other quality issues). Across the region, a high level of growth cracking is reported in the variety Fontane for example. Therefore, overall the NEPG expects more deductions than average. Also, dry matter contents are reported to be high in all countries, making tubers vulnerable to bruising, though this can improve somewhat the processing yield in factories. However, there also appear to be fewer tubers with sufficient length for processors in some cases.

There are some fears that production costs for NEPG growers could be higher this year, due to the very high blight pressure and in general lower than average yields. This would be particularly compounded for those growers suffering from higher than normal levels of wastage.

 

NEPG free-buy prices still firm

Potato prices on the free-buy market are still quite firm after last season, and may be supported by potentially lower production this year. However, especially on the continent, there are worries that some growers with contracts may face difficulties because of the scale of lower yields (sometimes making it difficult to cover contracted volumes), and possible quality penalties. If realised, both of these would also mean more demand on the free-buy market, adding further potential support for prices.

 

*NEPG – North-Western European Potato Growers: GB, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands

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