Processors hit by potato shortfall
of a drastically reduced potato harvest, according to a new report
from the British Potato Council (BPC).
Supplies of the vegetable dropped after last summer's poor yields in the major potato growing areas of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Very hot weather in June and July followed by heavy rain in August lowered total production while growth disorders such as glassy potato led to substantial losses. In Belgium, some crops were reduced by 30-40 per cent. In the Netherlands, overall crop yields were down 12.2 per cent from the previous year while France dropped 6.2 per cent and Belgium 1.9 per cent. The dip in yield has impacted upon processors and even further down the chain to retailers. Processors were forced to amend specifications on size, dry matter and fry colour to maximise supplies and retailers noted price increases in potato products. According to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics, potato products saw a price rise of 14.4 per cent last year and fresh potatoes increased by 54.3 per cent. In its report, the BPC questioned processors to discover the impact of the shortfall. Although yields this spring are expected to rise, alternative sources may be explored. The report said: "There was considerable discussion regarding the potential for Mediterranean countries to supply a significant proportion of the early crop, this may be only opportunistic to cover the 2006/7 shortage but if successful, may form part of procurement strategies going forward."