Potato market chronicle March 2020

Publication author: Jérôme Bonnier – J B Grains SARL

Potato market chronicle March 2020

The potato business is exciting. Well, here we are a year later: “madly exciting”. All the thinking heads eager to shape the plant, with specifications that are sometimes incomprehensible, even irrational, are confined to their homes.

The fresh potato market at the beginning of March
was completely depressed, close to agony. No sales, no throughput, not a single truck delivered without a dispute. A completely unknown virus brought us back down to earth. Red alert.

All standards are forgotten. No more specifications, no more panels. We need potatoes.

Stocks run dry.

The survival instinct relegates all great maneuvers. The people are hungry and must be fed.

It doesn’t matter whether the potato is organic, not organic, medium-sized, pretty or not, the shelves have to be filled at all costs, at the risk of riots. The growers are loading at an insane pace, and the transporters are on their toes.

The centers are working 3×8, even to the point of being out of stock: an excellent opportunity to get rid of the potatoes that were supposed to end up unsold. Stocks are being emptied at breakneck speed. Some stocks are either almost empty or will last 2 to 3 weeks at most.

The corona virus effect on the potato market

The Italians have a ferocious appetite, and the Spaniards have planted a little earlier, so they should start getting potatoes in mid to late April. Israel is starting to arrive in Spain and Italy.

Early growers in the south of France planted 3 weeks ago. To date, Brittany has only planted 15% of its early potato area. If all goes well, they should be back on track by week 13. Beauce will start planting in week 15, weather permitting.

How long will the coronavirus effect keep potatoes selling? If the current pace continues for another 15 to 20 days, stocks will run dry.