TRADE AND MARKET I NG The heat is on Weather has dominated the potato market over the last two years and is becoming increasingly important to the fortunes of growers. E urope experienced its worst drought in 40 years in 2018, while growers in Canada were hit by a wet autumn and then an early winter, destroying significant areas of the potato crop. The weather is shaping up to be just as exceptional in 2019. A number of European countries saw all-time record temperatures of near or even above 40C in July, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, with the heat concentrated in potato growing regions. Meanwhile, Poland has suffered from dry conditions, which have driven prices up to record levels for the time of the year. July hottest month ever The hot conditions are not limited to Europe, with parts of North West USA in drought, along with states in the east. Temperatures of more than 20C have been recorded within the Arctic Circle. By some accounts July was the hottest month globally ever, which followed on from the hottest June ever and 2018 could still be the warmest year ever recorded. There has been a clear correlation between temperatures, rainfall and futures price over the last two months. Three or four days before temperature rises take place futures prices rise. The most dramatic example was last week’s heatwave. On July 12 temperatures in Belgium were in the low 20Cs but much higher values were predicted. On that day the April 2020 futures price was at €154/tonne but by Monday July 22 it had soared to €208/tonne in anticipation of the very hot conditions on Thursday July 25. However, a forecast of a mixture of lower temperatures, rain and some sunshine led to much lower pricBrussels daily high temperatures & April 2020 futures price 100 150 200 250 April 2020 50 0 June July High Temp. C 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 100 150 200 250 50 0 June July es with values falling to €161/tonne by Monday July 30. Prices have also fallen when rain is forecast this season. When rain has fallen over the last two months it has done so in short sharp bursts, with three days when more than 10mm has fallen. North American fries become more competitive The shortage of European potatoes over the last year has meant North American fries have become more competitive globally against European product over the last year as supplies in key EU growing countries tightened after the small 2018 harvest. Belgian fry exports remain the lowest priced of the four major global suppliers – Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and the US. The average price of Belgian fry exports in April (latest figures available) was €731/tonne, €324/tonne less than US fries - the highest priced of the four. The Belgian price rose by 15.8% or €100/tonne between April 2018 and April 2019. The average Dutch fry price in April was €874/tonne – up 16.7% on the year and only €43/tonne more than the average Canadian price, which had risen by 13.2% over the year. The average US price in April was the equivalent of €1 055/tonne, 8.5% more than the year before. Over the last five years, lowerpriced fries have helped Belgium and the Netherlands win sales. In the year to April 2019, Belgium shipped 2.573 million tonnes – 52.6% more than it did in 2014 and up 321 000 tonnes on the 2017/18 figures. The Netherlands exported 1.951 million tonnes in the year to April 2019, which was 2.3% less than the year before, but 36.7% more than in 2014. Brussels daily high temperatures & April 2020 futures price April 2020 Rain mm 0 5 10 15 20 25 Potato World 2019 • number 3 43 €/tonne Temperature C €/tonne Rainfall mm Pagina 42

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