Potatoes Reports

Potato Council Report July 2020

As restaurants re-opens this week there is an air of optimism that the food service sector will begin to       return to some form of “new-normal”. Demand for early varieties continues as more Queens come onto   the market. Reports from early growers suggest average yields with some frost damage on the earliest  crops.

In the U.K. this week has seen free-buy trade in all sectors at low levels. As the end of the 2019 season approaches, contracts and material bought are being “cleared” up in preparation of new-crop supply. Earlies trade is reported to be sluggish. There seems to be a reduction in demand for earlies on the free-buy market with the lack of catering demand being felt.

Across Europe the impact of the lockdown is beginning to come to light, processing activity in Holland in May is estimated to have reduced to 65% of capacity compared to the year before and in France it reduced to 52%. The Dutch industry is estimated to have used 330,000 tonnes or 7.7% less raw material over the twelve-month period to the end of May. The situation is improving now, however, the long-term impact is likely to be felt for some time.

Ex-Farm Potato Prices reported to IFA

Rooster box€330€380€350
Rooster10 kg bag€3.30€4.00€3.50
Whites box€320€370€350
K Pinks 10kg bag€4.20€5.00€4.50
Golden Wonder 10kg bag€5.00€6.00€5.50

Activity since last National Council 

  • Results of the IFA potato stock survey were published in early June.  The summary is as follows; survey results reveal that there were 30,000 tonnes of Rooster as at 31st May 2020, which is on par with last season but considerably lower than previous years. The amount of other varieties remaining was marginal.   
  • IFA are currently carrying out the planted acreage survey for the 2020 season. DAFM has released preliminary BPS area figures which show potato area similar to 2019. If yields take a hit from the drought this will leave production significantly lower than last year. 
  • An online national Potato Committee meeting was held on the 3rd of June. The main discussion points were: the implications of the drought, 2020 season progress and PPP’s.  
  • A number of growers supplying the catering and fresh chip sectors have continued to be seriously affected by the lack of demand due to the impact of the pandemic and have had to send potatoes for cattle feed. IFA have brought this to the attention of DAFM. 
  • IFA has been involved in meetings of the Potato Promotion group to launch the new EU potato promotion campaign. The first activation took place last month which was an Instagram campaign where influencers created potato dishes. The website can be found on https://www.potato.ie/ 
  • IFA has lobbied in Brussels and with DAFM regarding the re–authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s. There is also ongoing work involving a series of meetings regarding an emergency derogation for the potato desiccant diquat. 
  • There was further interaction with DAFM regarding the inclusion of haulm toppers and potato storage equipment under TAMS.  
  • IFA put forward a submission to the Joint Oireachtas detailing support for the horticulture sectors in the context of the next CAP through on-farm investment, and the development of producer groups. 
  • Last week the commission offered an additional €10 million to promote sales of crisis-hit agri-food products. The extra €10 million fund will be available to boost sales of fruit and vegetable, wine, live plants, dairy and certain potatoes. Half of that amount will go to promotion activities run jointly by producer organisations from several EU countries and the other half to national activities. In both cases, promotion can take place either within or outside the EU within a one-year period. Proposals must be submitted by 27 August 2020. 

Upcoming Activity/Events 

  • Potato Promotions – The promotion has now begun and activities are scheduled for the coming months. IFA will be involved in the planning and will be participating in the activities. 
  • All growers have received a letter from IFA asking them to contribute to the potato promotion fund. There will be a follow up to the letter to encourage all growers to contribute shortly. Growers and industry will each have to contribute 20% of the funding but this will be matched by 80% co-funding from the EU. 
  • IFA will continue to demand that packers and retailers increase potato farm gate prices to cover the extra costs of cold storage. 
  • The annual potato planting survey has commenced. 
  • IFA will continue its work regarding for the retention of key PPP’s and seeking a derogation for Diquat. 
ChairmanThomas McKeown
ExecutivePatrick Farrell

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