Potato market chronicle March 2021

Publication author: Jérôme Bonnier – J B Grains SARL

Potato market chronicle March 2021

France, under the guise of Covid, has just proved locavores right. Far from all the indigestible standards, producers and consumers are discovering each other. Direct sales from vending machines, farm stores and city stores are becoming essential marketers. Let’s produce local, sell local, eat local; if possible, organic and year-round. Even if we can’t grow everything everywhere all year round. Last year at this time, we were bursting at the seams with unsold stock.

Trucks in dispute every day

Then Covid came along and we experienced collapses and recoveries. And let’s not forget the change in antigerminants, with growers lost with the new products wreaking havoc on storage. Fridges are running at full capacity to hold a potato that is aging very badly. Trucks are in dispute every day. Buyers are doing their best to meet the ever-increasing demands. With all these changes, the industry is struggling to find its feet. All the producers who supply the French fries segment are running low on stock. With Covid, organic production volumes are in surplus. Local authorities have to serve part of their meals organically, but if it’s confined, it’s not consumed… In supermarkets, sales are almost identical to last year, if not slightly higher.

In step with confinements

Our Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German customers are also switching to local produce. We only receive very occasional requests for specific products. The tare rates applied are very high on certain batches. Many damaged potatoes are cleared. After a slight upturn and a few hedge buy-backs, Belgian and Dutch manufacturers are now back in the doldrums. The flake market is completely saturated. Egypt and Israel will start harvesting around mid-April. Planting in France’s primeur regions is underway. The first Breton flakes should arrive around June 1st. Let’s be positive: we’re expecting demand to overheat when all the gathering places reopen. But when?