11 July 2023
Promising season for growers and traders despite lower yields.
A SHIFT in favoured varieties is likely in the Netherlands, according to potato trader Kees Bijl.
Bijl Potatoes supplies a wide range of locally-grown varieties year-round to the fruit and vegetable trade, retail packers, exporters, and the industry and Kees says there is already a shift from very floury to floury and waxy.
"Doré is becoming a smaller item. Though it still has a certain base in the area, sales decline yearly. Other varieties like Colomba, Musica, Anais, and Alegria are popping up now," he said in a recent interview.
"At present, our regional potatoes are not being packed for the supermarkets yet. That's happening, to a limited degree, in the north of the country. Most of the trade happening now is toward greengrocers and market traders. And, of course, there are farm stores."
Kees says early in the season, they primarily work with 20kg Alvantho crates.
With a late spring resulting in limited supplies, potatoes planted at the beginning of March are only now being grubbed, and yields are as much as 25% lower than average, so prices are good, he said.
While irrigation has gone well in the Tholen region, the crops are not growing too well because of easterly and north-easterly winds which have been blowing over the island for a long while.
"That air's too dry for the crop to grow well. The current sizes and few plots suitable for harvest reflect that. But the range is fairly wide. There aren't only the main Doré and Frieslander varieties available."
In August, as potato skins tighten, more loose products will be going out the door because growers can then use big harvesters in the fields but at the moment the potatoes still have to be handled very carefully, he said.
The current good potato prices are not only due to the lower Dutch yields but also down to earlier limited imports.
"There's a clear need for Dutch product, because there are few imports, putting pressure on the market. The French fries industry is still busy with the old crop, but they, too, will come calling for new potatoes from the second half of July. That market is after all much broader and larger than that of ware potatoes. Something we've undoubtedly piggybacked on in recent years."
However, the picture for growers and traders looks promising, he said, because although yields are lower, payout prices are higher.