Francia: FRANCE CONTINUES TO DECREASE ITS AREA OF SEED POTATOES
Due to France and The Netherlands’ continuous decrease in their hectarage of seed potatoes, major importing countries like Egypt had limited access to available quantities.
According to Bernard Quere, FN3PT director, in France, the seed potato area will continue to decrease this year, “but not so much than in 2023.”
“In 2023, France decreased its area of seed potatoes, so the available quantities for Egypt were less too. It was the same in the Netherlands, so the total available quantities of seed potatoes for Egypt were less. But, Egypt was demanding a lot of seed potatoes at the beginning of the campaign. Taking into account that the available quantities were less and prices higher, Egypt imported fewer quantities. I guess that in the future they will demand more quantities again because they want to export more quantities of ware potatoes. […] In France, we expect that the seed potato area will decrease again in 2024 but not so much than in 2023,” Quere declared for www.potatobusiness.com.
Earlier, the North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) also pointed out that the availability of seed potatoes is becoming a problem and a concern for Spring 2024.
“In seed production, there are fewer hectares (66% less compared to 2022), fewer tubers, and larger tubers than usual in the Benelux, France, Germany, Denmark, and Scotland. Higher downgrading of seed will lead to a reduction of about 20% in seed availability for 2024,” the NEPG representatives explained.
Only 16,600 tons of seed potatoes were imported into Egypt in September-October 2023 – the lowest amount in the previous six years, according to a recent EastFruit market analysis. Comparing this to the same period last season – which usually runs from September to February – there was a stark drop.
Based on the intel gathered by the Eastern European analysts mentioned earlier, Egypt imported the fewest seed potatoes in at least six previous seasons during the first two months of autumn 2023. Because the market for ware potatoes is impacted by the lagged effect of seed potato imports, analysts predicted that this could hurt the yield and export of ware potatoes from Egypt in the upcoming marketing year of 2024–2025.
Egypt imports between 110,000 and 150,000 tons of seed potatoes each autumn and winter. These potatoes are used to produce ware potatoes the following season by multiplying under local circumstances. Already as early as December 2024, there may be serious issues with the availability of high-quality ware potatoes due to a steep fall in seed potato imports during the current season.
Decrease in Seed Area by Around 5,000 ha Only for The Netherlands and France Together
Europatat experts recently revealed that the 2023 growing season was especially challenging for the European seed potato growers, which undoubtedly will have an impact on deliveries for the coming export season (2023 -2024).
Europatat members have reported that due to cold weather and continued rain, the planting of seed potatoes has been delayed in many European countries by four to five weeks or in some cases even longer, which will consequently had an impact on the harvesting dates and yields.
Another challenge of 2023 was the reduction in the acreage dedicated to seed potatoes. NEPG has issued their press release where they estimated the decrease in seed area by around 5,000 ha only for the Netherlands and France together. NEPG also projected that the seed area also went down in Germany, Belgium, and Scotland. In total, it was estimated the area in Europe dedicated to growing seed potatoes was reduced by 7% compared to the previous season.
Europatat members anticipated that the 2023 season will exceptionally result in a shortage of seed potatoes not only in total volume (especially in seed sizes 28 -55 mm) but also regarding certain classes (E class, which is mostly required by importing countries) and varieties. This will lead to an overall limited supply. In particular, it will have an impact on overseas deliveries.
“Therefore, Europatat recommends to countries around the world that rely on the import of EU seed potatoes, to extend for this year the maximum size of traded seed potatoes from the current 55 mm to 60 mm. This will improve the availability of seed potatoes for export destinations,” the Europatat experts concluded.