Next to the increased acreages - mainly in Belgium and France - the lack of winter frosts, the early spring and good soil conditions meant almost optimal growing conditions and a potato harvest which is on track to break the previous production record. Aviko's own test harvestings confirm 'above average' production figures.
During June and July the crop developed well but high rainfall in August led to decreasing dry matters in some fields. Although this has led to some rejections, the overall potato crop is expected to be healthy with good tuber lengths.
Price-wise, the prospect of the new season is low pricing. Exports of fresh potatoes which led to increased prices in 2010 and 2012 fall behind compared to previous years. The UK imported high levels of fresh potatoes in 2012, seems to be self-supporting this year. Russia has also decided not to buy European potatoes, although they face a risk of potato shortages.
Although it could seem that most signals are red, the lower yields and dry matters in processing mean more potatoes will be needed. The low price levels of free-buy potatoes could open up markets for both fresh potatoes and processed products. We are currently less than half way through the main crop harvest so it's difficult to be sure of the final situation.
With the potato harvest starting at least two weeks earlier than usual, the risk of crop failure due to rainfall and difficult conditions seems small. Final crop figures will be published later this year and although it remains to be seen whether these will meet the NEPG estimate of almost 27 million tonnes, it can be assumed that there will be enough potatoes and little market prospects until Spring 2015 - unless a severe winter, a late Spring in 2015 or other unforeseen circumstances changes this view.