European Potato Market in 2024: High Prices and Varied Yields Set the Tone

Fresh Common Potato
Published Feb 27, 2024
The European potato market saw both challenges and accomplishments in 2023. France saw a 2.3% YoY growth in ware potato area, resulting in a 12.7% YoY increase in production. However, severe drought resulted in a 23% YoY increase in average potato prices throughout the EU. Germany, Slovakia, and Croatia experienced considerable gains, while Belgium reported a 22% YoY increase in potato crop. Belgium's potato production grew by 18.2% YoY, while France's increased by 12.7%. Germany and the Netherlands had mixed results, with Germany maintaining its usual output and the Netherlands witnessing a 15% YoY decrease in production. These problems are projected to impact the 2024 growing season, bringing additional obstacles to the processing industry's production expansion plans and price increases.

Countries across Europe experienced varying outcomes in potato production in 2023. France saw notable growth, with an increased area dedicated to ware potatoes and overall production, attributed to improved yields. In contrast, Belgium faced challenges despite a significant crop yield increase, adverse weather conditions, and a phytophthora outbreak. The Netherlands and Germany also encountered difficulties, with the Dutch sector experiencing decreased production. At the same time, Germany, Slovakia, and Croatia faced rising average potato prices due to severe drought conditions. These disparities highlight the diverse impacts of weather and other factors on potato cultivation across the region.

Countries with Notable Performances

France enjoyed a productive year with a 2.3% year-over-year (YoY) increase in the ware potato (potatoes destined for human consumption) area, reaching 157,650 hectares (ha). This expansion led to a 12.7% YoY rise in production, amounting to 6,818,492 metric tons (mt). The growth was attributed to improved yields, which averaged 43.3 mt/ha, a significant improvement from the previous year's 39.2 mt/ha. Despite initial weather-related concerns, the French potato sector overcame potential marketing difficulties, buoyed by a surge in demand.

Despite experiencing its third warmest and fourth wettest year on record, Belgium reported an anticipated 22% YoY increase in potato crop yield, totaling 4.85 million metric tons (mmt). However, adverse weather conditions, including a phytophthora outbreak, left 5 to 8% of the crop unharvested. Due to harvest failure, the final harvest forecast for 2023 has been reduced by 400,000 mt. This brings the entire Belgian production of ware potatoes to 4.44 mmt. That is still 0.5 mmt greater than the previous year and the five-year average.

Countries Facing Challenges

Figure 1: Tridge Wholesale Price Index for Potatoes in Germany

Tridge Wholesale Price Index

Source: Tridge

According to the Northwest European Potato Growers (NEPG), the Dutch potato sector faced a challenging year, with a 14.9% YoY decrease in production compared to the previous year. While Germany maintained its typical output levels, the country, along with Slovakia and Croatia, experienced a significant rise in average potato prices due to severe drought conditions. Adverse weather in 2023 led to a 23% YoY rise in average potato prices across the European Union (EU), with significant increases in Germany (49%), Slovakia (48%), and Croatia (44%). In contrast, prices fell in Belgium (18%), Cyprus (14%), and Austria (4%). According to data from Poland's Central Statistical Office, purchased potatoes cost PLN 111.11 per day in Dec-23, a 44.0% month-over-month (MoM) increase compared to Nov-23 and 12.9% YoY more than in the same time in 2022.

The potato market in Europe in 2023 was a tale of contrasts, with some countries like France and Belgium achieving production growth due to favorable yields and demand, while others like the Netherlands grappled with reductions. The average potato prices in the EU saw a 23% YoY increase, with Germany, Slovakia, and Croatia witnessing substantial price hikes. In contrast, Belgium, Cyprus, and Austria saw price declines. Tridge anticipates that these developments and their expected impact on the 2024 growing season could pose additional challenges for the processing industry regarding production development plans and price stability.

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