“French Supply Of Early Potatoes Should Soon Be Significant”

Published online: Jun 16, 2023 Articles Francisco Moya, Vitalis & CNIPT, for Fresh Plaza
Viewed 514 time(s)

“We are currently experiencing extreme tension regarding the French supply of potatoes from the last harvest,” explains Francisco Moya, director of the Vitalis network and president of CNIPT. “The market is completely devoid of potatoes from the last harvest, we have reached the end of the road, after clearing out for the last few weeks. The French market is now more than empty.”

Lack Of Availability Due To Four Factors

The harvest ended early, due to a combination of factors. In August, we had already announced a sharp drop in production volumes due to weather conditions,” he said. “This was confirmed throughout the campaign, with historically low yields and a lack of availability at the end of the campaign. There was also a growing need from the processing industry. Faced with this increase in demand, a proportion of potatoes went to processing although originally intended for the fresh market.

The physiological storage quality of the potatoes from the previous harvest was such that from February/March onwards, the market was faced with an above-average sorting deviation rate. And last but not least, the situation observed on the French market is identical in all European countries. It is therefore not surprising at all to be experiencing such tension in mid-June regarding the supply.

Most Of The 2022 Production Was Sold At Normal Prices

This lack of product availability has naturally led to highly inflationary prices. However, when analyzing this price increase at the end of the campaign, we observe huge disparities between the different production basins, farms and producers. It is important to keep in mind that a large proportion of the potatoes produced are contract potatoes. As a result, when there is a loss of yield, it is not necessarily compensated by high prices, and the producer is then impacted from an economic point of view.

Certain outlets were more able to move towards inflation, but most of the production was sold at normal prices which were not adapted at all to the situation. It is therefore important to look at the season as a whole and not look only at the latest high prices, because for some producers, this situation has really exacerbated the difficulties they were already experiencing.

The Sector Has Been Through A Lot In A Short Amount Of Time

Despite appearances, the overall situation is very complicated for all professionals of the sector. This explosive situation, along with inflation, the increase in production costs, the direct effects of the Ukraine war and the after-effects of the Covid crisis, have caused a lot of upheaval for the sector in a short space of time. Excesses are never good. We need a certain stability. We also need to ensure that potatoes remain available on the market because they are such a basic product.

French Volumes Should Increase Soon

Regarding the new harvest, the market is also facing supply difficulties. This problem is about to be partly resolved, thanks to a French supply that is gradually increasing. In France, we have been able to rely partly on products from Israel, as well as from Spain, but in lesser quantities, since Spanish producers have had to cope with drought followed by rain, which arrived suddenly at the time of grubbing-up.

On a positive note, the French production is starting to increase. Volumes should pick up in the next week, as one region after another goes into production. The western islands began a month ago, Brittany has also started and the south of France is about to enter into production. We are gradually reaching a French production that will have its place on the fresh market, even if the supply will remain tight because we do not have any stocks and we are always chasing the product. But we should at least be able to work properly in the coming days with a better supply.

Worrisome Lack Of Water Supply

The French production is now returning to the normal schedule in terms of availability, but professionals of the sector are nervous as the campaign starts. We are well aware that these dry spells are becoming recurrent and that the lack of water has been having a significant impact on the harvest. The water issue is now central and we need to be very vigilant for the coming campaigns.

Positive But Tense Outlook

Despite this market deficit, Francisco Moya remains positive about the new campaign. All of Europe shares the same concerns. The French sector will manage to pull through, even if the context should remain tense in the coming weeks.


Francisco Moya Francisco.moya@negonor.com