Potato processors are feeling the pinch as supplies dwindle due to last year's poor harvest.
Unseasonably warm weather last summer caused crops to fall by up to 15 per cent in important growing regions such as France and the Netherlands. A report from the British Potato Council (BPC), published last month, stated: "Despite an increase in planted area in the Netherlands, Belgium and France, the difficult growing conditions during 2006 resulted in reduced yield and lower total production." Poor production, coupled with an increase in field and storage waste left stocks substantially reduced in comparison with last year's figures. Now the chief executive of German industry organisation BOGK, Horst-Peter Karos, has said the dwindling supplies have already been felt by companies. According to Reuters, the industry chief described the situation as 'very tense', adding that many producers would suffer unless they had existing stocks. The 2006/07 growing season saw a drop in yield of 12.2 per cent in the Netherlands, 1.9 per cent in Belgium and 6.2 per cent in France. Waste in Belgium was particularly high with 20 per cent of the crop discarded. These changes in the supply chain have resulted in processors raising prices. Fixed price contracts are up 10-25 per cent above last year's levels. And, it appears that retailers are also eager to pass on costs. In its report the BPC surveyed three major Dutch supermarkets and noted a 30 per cent increase in French fries and a 10 per cent rise in the price of general potato products.
In addition, the range of products available has been reduced and pack sizes slightly downsized.