Is France threatened by a shortage of potatoes?

Is France threatened by a shortage of potatoes?
Is France threatened by a shortage of potatoes?

Attention, possible disaster scenario in sight. Potatoes, an essential part of our diet, could run out. The sector is indeed expecting very poor yields with a drop of 20%, or even 30 to 50% in some cases, according to a press release from the National Union of Potato Producers (UNPT) published at the end of August, union which brings together many producers in France. Or 1.5 million tons lost, which does not bode well for this winter and the year 2023.

“The latest samples, to date, confirm the historic deterioration in national yields of at least -20% compared to the average of the last twenty years, i.e. 1.5 million tonnes lost (40,000 ha brought to the surface). This average loss could even reach at least -30% for non-irrigated potatoes, with extremes already recorded at -50%”, warns the UNPT.

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In question, the episodes of drought which affected the European continent throughout the summer period of this year 2022, and caused harm to the potato sector. “The combined effect of the hot temperatures which block the potato and the lack of water which strongly limits the development of the tubers and the acquisition of the target size, it is the double penalty”, explains Loïc Le Meur, manager technical and economic at the UNPT, interviewed by Actu.fr, September 2.

In its press release, the UNPT explains that French potato producers, and particularly those delivering to industry and starch factories, “are therefore expecting a ‘dark’ year and are preparing to suffer very significant financial losses. which can (…) amount to more than 200 million euros for the production”.

This “annus horribilis” will most certainly have repercussions on the remuneration of producers. Because each year, the “patatiers” undertake to deliver manufacturers up to a predetermined volume, based on previous years. But this fall, some producers will fail to honor past contracts.

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A price increase is expected

To ensure the yields of the year 2023-2024 and the sustainability of the operators, the UNPT therefore calls “for the general mobilization of all the economic actors of the sector and the public authorities” in order to allow the producers “to cross this course historical”. The federation also wishes to obtain a “revaluation of the prices paid to producers and a better distribution of the added value, in particular with large distribution, to the contractual relaxation of the volumes committed not delivered by the producers”.

If a shortage is not yet on the agenda, potato prices will inevitably rise in the coming months, boosted by a drop in production, but also by the explosion in production costs. . “In any case, there will be an economic lever: to continue producing, farmers will have to raise prices. Especially since other producers (of vegetables, cereals, etc.) are also raising their prices. And this increase goes without doubt reverberate in supermarkets”, warns the head of the UNPT.

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The article is in French

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