In 2022, consumption potato production in the North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) zone is forecast to fall to 21.2 million metric tonnes, a decline of 6.0% year-on-year (y-o-y), based on current yield estimations. This is attributable to a drop in production in Belgium, France and Germany, which offsets the growth in the Netherlands.
Local weather influences led to a huge variation in yields across the NEPG zone. Yields are estimated to decline by 7.8% y-o-y, to 42.1t/ha in the NEPG zone, with the highest drop in Belgium, estimated down 21.3% y-o-y, to 38.9t/ha. Furthermore, yields fell in Belgium, Germany and France, on the back of adverse summer drought conditions, a critical development period for potatoes. Warmer than average temperatures, combined with a lack of rain, affected the early growth of the potatoes and limited development during bulking before harvest.
Seasonally, in November, large quantities of potatoes go into storage. However, the cost-benefit of keeping potatoes in facilities for longer will potentially be outweighed by higher energy prices, meaning some growers may look to sell earlier than usual. According to one potato trader, he expects many farmers “to sell off large quantities earlier than usual to avoid having to pay the higher energy prices expected in storage.” Contract prices agreed at the start of 2022 did not account for the record input cost levels reached in Q2 2022, leaving many farmers with lower than anticipated profit margins. Looking ahead, contracted potato prices (which are finalised prior to planting) will need to rise significantly for the upcoming 2023/24 season to encourage growers to maintain current production levels.