European potato sector responds to call for acreage reduction

Just over a week ago the North-Western European Potato Growers Association (NEPG) sent out a call asking for the sector’s acreage to be reduced by at least 15% for the 2021/2022 season.

This is an emergency measure to nip the effects of the coronavirus in the bud. But does this measure offer real relief?

How realistic is the NEPG’s appeal?

Keimpe van der Heide is a Dutch Arable Farming Trade Union (NAV) board member. He also chairs the Producer Organization for Consumer Potatoes (POC). He’s willing to respond; calling the NEPG advice sensible.

Geoffrey Delbaere of Warnez Potatoes in Belgium would welcome a 15% acreage shrinkage. “We plant potatoes in February and March. At that time, COVID-19 wasn’t yet so pertinent. A few weeks/months later, it put the whole industrial potatoes market under great pressure. …As things stand, we’re not rid of the virus yet. That makes it wise to reduce the acreage.”

The NEPG appeal was presented to Karl-Josef Dammer. He runs Weuthen, a German potato trading company. A definite 15% decline in potato acreage is not realistic, according to Dammer. “You can’t translate this in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Netherlands, and Belgium. As far as we’re concerned, an area reduction of only 10-12% is needed.”

It’s complicated for some growers in some French production areas to reduce their acreage. These regions include Champagne, an area strongly oriented towards the consumption market. So, not all French producers will follow the NEPG’s advice to reduce the acreage by 15% next year.

Source: FreshPlaza. Read the full report here