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NEPG predicts increased plantings in 2018, despite year of low prices

Publication Date: 
9 May 2018

Aidan Wright, Analyst, aidan.wright@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478 894

According to its latest press release, the NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) has estimated that the planted area of its member countries will increase 0.4% from 2017. Stocks remain high across all member countries, although the current season is expected to extend. These expectations are due to adverse weather causing delays to planting which may lead to the late arrival of early new season supplies.

There was a consensus among the NEPG members that the market will continue to diverge, with sustained demand for best quality at premium prices expected. Equally prices for lower quality supplies are likely to trend lower with limited demand, towards the tail end of the season. With the quality of remaining supplies uncertain, the NEPG expressed its hope that there will be a sufficient quantity of potatoes with good fry quality at the end of the season.

Planted area

All the NEPG countries (Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Great Britain) reported weather related delays to planting this season, though planting on the continent is now reported to be mostly complete. Frustrating weather conditions have meant that planting in Great Britain has continued to lag behind average and is still some way off completion.

The NEPG has estimated an increase in planted area compared to 2017, in all but one of the continental European members. Increases in planted area are predicted in France (+3.0%), Belgium (+1.4%) and Germany (+1.5%) while area in The Netherlands is expected to decrease 2.5% to 73,905ha. The overall planted area increase for the NEPG countries is estimated to be up 0.4% on the year, and 6.7% on the five year average.

It should be noted that the planted area estimate for Great Britain in the table below is based on the five year average. This is due to delayed planting making AHDB unable to provide an accurate 2018 area figure at this time.

The NEPG stated that there are several factors that have influenced the expected increase in planted area. According to reports, there has been a higher demand for contracted supplies from processors, and a large quantity of seed potatoes have been available. Equally low prices for alternative crops, such as wheat and sugar beet, have likely influenced planting decisions.

In many of the NEPG countries, a move away from growing fresh table (pre-pack) varieties has been reported, with growers switching to higher yielding varieties destined for the processing markets. There is also an expectation that more potatoes will be destined for the starch industry in Germany, France and The Netherlands, to meet strong demand. It should be noted that data related to seed potatoes and potatoes for starch production are not included in the NEPG estimates.

Further information can be found in the May 2018 NEPG press release.

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