The potato harvest in the UK and Europe has faced significant challenges this year due to adverse weather conditions, including storms and heavy rainfall. The UK is bracing for one of its most minor potato crops on record. Storm Babet, following closely after Storm Agnes, has made harvesting difficult, with only 85% of seed potatoes lifted before its arrival. Despite these setbacks, UK growers are seeing strong demand, particularly from North Africa and the Middle East.
In Yorkshire, 80% of the potato crop has been cleared, but the remaining 20% is proving difficult due to waterlogged conditions. This situation is mirrored in Belgium, where heavy rainfall in West Flanders has affected potato and vegetable fields. Jurgen Duthoo of Warnez Potatoes estimates that 20% of the fields are yet to be harvested, with many in a dire situation. The market is feeling the impact of this low supply, with prices potentially rising.
The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) association reports that the potato crop in north-west Europe is nearly 20% smaller than last year, mainly due to summer drought. The overall potato yield in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK is 8% below the five-year average, with extreme drought and high temperatures reducing yields to around 40 tonnes per hectare. The smaller crop and quality issues are raising concerns about meeting contract tonnages and benefiting some farmers due to a stronger free-sale market.
In Ukraine, potato prices are surging, with a reported 17% increase in just one week. The wholesale price of high-quality potatoes has risen significantly, exceeding last year's levels by 80%. Large potato growers in Ukraine are holding back sales in anticipation of better prices, expecting further price increases as temperatures drop. Despite higher prices in Ukraine, they remain lower than those in Moldova and Poland, with Ukraine exporting potatoes to Moldova but facing export barriers to the EU.
The potato harvest across the UK and Europe has been challenging, with storms, flooding, and drought significantly impacting yields and quality.
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