W34: Potato Update

In W34 in the potato landscape, United States (US) potato exports reached a record value and volume between Jul-22 and Jun-23, with a 19% year-on-year (YoY) increase in value to USD 2.1 billion (EUR 2 billion) and a 3.8% increase in volume to 3.3 million tons. The export value of US potatoes increased in all categories except seed potatoes, with mashed potato flakes and crisps experiencing the most significant growth. Mexico became the US' largest potato export market in the period mentioned, followed by Canada and Japan.

On the other hand, European prices for processing potato have declined from their record highs in Jul-23 due to increased volumes of new crops entering the market. The Mintec Benchmark prices for Dutch processing potatoes were assessed at USD 32.62 per 100 kilograms (EUR 30/100kg) on August 22, a decrease of 50% from the record high of USD 65.24/100kg (EUR 60/100kg) on July 25. The market shifted from a supply deficit at the end of the 2022/23 season towards an excess of non-contracted potatoes. Most buyers used contracted volumes with minimal demand for free-buy supplies, leading to growers selling at lower prices to incentivize purchases. The seasonal price decline is typical for the potato market, but due to crop development delays and later harvests, this downward price movement occurred later than usual. European Union (EU) potato yields are expected to be average at best, with significant regions like Poland, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands forecasting yields below the five-year average.

In 2023, a government-supported project in Ağrı, Turkey aims to produce high-yielding potato seeds in 50 hectares (ha). The seeds, distributed by the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry with a grant of 80%, were irrigated using modern systems and sprouted. The project attracted interest from farmers, who expect high yields.

Lastly, the sweet potato season has commenced in Egypt and is anticipated to last until Feb-24. Despite experiencing lower yields compared to the previous year, there is still an increase in demand. A sales and export manager from Fresh Zone highlighted that unfavorable weather conditions contributed to the yield reduction, which is deemed a temporary setback. The warmer-than-usual summer is expected to result in a favorable summer harvest. Nevertheless, a considerable number of growers have transitioned to cultivating other crops due to a notable increase in cultivation expenses of more than 60%. Consequently, potato production is expected to be approximately 20% YoY lower. 

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