The EU potato sector

Statistics on production and trade

The EU potato sector: statistics on production & trade

Eurostat data. Data extracted in February 2017

Harvest

A total of 53 million tonnes of potatoes were harvested in the EU in 2015 (down by 36% from 2000). Germany was the main producer. In 2015, 53 million tonnes of potatoes were harvested in the EU. Germany was the biggest producer, with a share of 19.5%, ahead of France (13.4%), the Netherlands (12.5%), Poland (11.6%), and the United Kingdom (10.5%). This means that, of every three tonnes, two were grown in just five Member States.

In 2000, the EU-28 potato harvest was 83 million tonnes; however overall production has declined steadily since then (down by 36% between 2000 and 2015). Various trends emerge at national level: harvests have fallen in four of the five big producer countries, albeit at different rates. Poland has seen the sharpest drop (-74.6%). In France, the trend has been slightly positive.

tonnes of potatoes harvested in the EU in 2014

of hectares under potatoes

Farms and area

Almost 1.6 million of hectares under potatoes – nearly 50% of which are in Poland, Germany and France.

According to the most recent (2013) farm structure survey, potatoes were cultivated on 1.59 million ha in the EU-28. Just three Member States accounted for almost half (46.9%) of this total: Poland (21.2%), Germany (15.2%) and France (10.5%), followed by the Netherlands (9.8%) and the United Kingdom (8.8%). Among the other Member States, 11 contributed less than 1% each. Almost 1.9 million farms grew potatoes: nearly two in three were in just two Member States: Romania (38.1%) and Poland (27.2%), while 15 Member States accounted for shares of less than 1% each.

The average potato area per farm was 0.8 ha; in Denmark it reached 20.6 ha

These farms devoted an average of 0.8 ha to potatoes. This includes much higher figures in three Member States: Denmark (20.6 ha on average), the Netherlands (17 ha) and the United Kingdom (16.9 ha), and below average areas in 13 Member States, including Poland (0.7 ha) and Romania (0.2 ha). As a result, there was an inverse distribution of holdings by size of potato area and farm numbers: 18.5% of the EU area cultivated with potatoes was on farms growing potatoes on less than 1 ha, which represented 91.3% of all holdings cultivating potatoes. Conversely, 0.8% of holdings with at least 20 ha sown to potatoes accounted for 42.1% of total EU potato area.

ha of organic potatoes, a third of which were in Germany

In the Netherlands, 15% of all arable land was under potato, while the figure for the EU as a whole was 1.5%

The scale of potato cultivation varies widely across Member States. In the EU as a whole, the area dedicated to potatoes was 1.5% of all arable land, but in the Netherlands it was 15%, in Belgium it reached 9.1% and in Malta it was 8.1%, while in 13 countries it was 1% or less. Potatoes were grown on one in four arable farms in the EU (25.3%), ranging from over two in three in Latvia (72.1%) and Slovenia (70%) to only 2.4% in Italy and 2% in Ireland.

23 900 ha of organic potatoes, a third of which were in Germany

According to the 2013 farm structure survey, organic farming was practised on only 1.1% of EU holdings cultivating potatoes and 1.5% of the area dedicated to the crop. Of all organic farms, 10.4% grew organic potatoes, but the organic potato area made up just 0.3% of all organically managed hectares. Over half of the total area dedicated to organic potato cultivation was located in just three Member States: Germany (33.7%), Austria (12.9%) and France (8.9%), followed by Poland (8.5%) and the Netherlands (6.2%).

Values and prices

European raw potatoes were worth EUR 10 billion, with France accounting for the largest proportion in value terms.

In 2015, the value of the EU’s production of potatoes (including seed potatoes) at basic prices (i.e. including subsidies, but excluding taxes on products) was EUR 10 billion. This represented 2.5% of the value of total EU agricultural output. However, the proportion varied significantly at Member State level, from 6.2% in Belgium to 0.7% in Luxembourg. In terms of value of crop output, potatoes accounted for 4.7% at EU level and at national level between 13.6% in Belgium and 1.2% in Bulgaria. Almost half (48.6%) of potato production (in value terms) came from just three countries: France (19.9%), Germany (15.5%) and the Netherlands (13.3%). The United Kingdom (7.6%) and Romania (7.1%) ranked fourth and fifth, while 14 Member States accounted for less than 1% each.

Trade

Member States exported potatoes both outside and within the EU (to other Member States), the latter being far more significant in terms of both value and volume.

Potatoes were traded mainly on the EU internal market: France, the Netherlands and Germany were the leading traders.

Intra EU trade in potatoes was quite dynamic in 2015 across all Member States: about 6 million tonnes were exported to other EU markets, for a value of almost EUR 1.3 billion (0.04% of all intra EU exports). This involved mainly standard table (main crop) potatoes (68.3% of total intra EU potato exports in value terms); seed potatoes accounted for 19.3% and early potatoes for 10.6%, while starch potatoes made up the remaining 1.8%. Three Member States accounted for almost two thirds of intra EU exports in value terms: France (28.5%), the Netherlands (17.9%) and Germany (17.1%), followed at a distance by Belgium (10.5%). France and Germany primarily exported main crop potatoes (36.2% and 20.4% respectively in value terms), while 59.1% (in value terms) of all seed potatoes traded within the EU came from the Netherlands. Italy and Spain were the most active intra EU traders of early potatoes, both accounting for 22.8% each.

93.4 % of all imported potatoes were early potatoes.

In 2015, the EU imported few potatoes from non-EU countries: 306 200 tonnes entered the European market from abroad, for a value of about EUR 114.3 million. These were almost all (93.4%) early potatoes: 286 000 tonnes (worth EUR 106 million) entered the European market from southern and eastern Mediterranean countries; more than half (52.7%) were from Egypt, 45.5% from Israel and the remaining 1.8% from Morocco and Tunisia.

The EU is a net exporter of seed and main crop potatoes and the Netherlands was the leading trader.

The EU is a net exporter of potatoes: in 2015, it shipped 1.4 million tonnes for a value of EUR 540 million (0.03% of the total value of extra EU exports). These were mainly seed potatoes (71.9% in value and 55% in volume) and some crop potatoes (26.8% in value and 43.6% in volume); thus, exports of early and starch potatoes were almost negligible. Two thirds of seed potatoes (66.0% in value and 67.3% in volume terms) were exported to southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. Egypt was the first trading partner in value terms (20.0%), while Algeria imported the highest volume (20.3%) of European seed potatoes. The EU exported crop potatoes mainly to Senegal (12.5% in value; 14.5% in volume) and Norway (13.2% in value; 6.4% in volume). All other partners imported smaller proportions of EU crop potatoes.

Potato exports were generally transported by sea (85.0% in value; 82.7% in quantity) and road (14.8%; 17.1%).

Among the Member States, the Netherlands was the outstanding exporter, with an overall share of 62.3% in value and 61.6% in volume; France followed at some distance (11.1%; in value and 11.5% in volume). The United Kingdom ranked third in value (9.4%) and fourth in volume (5.9%) while Germany was fourth in value (7.4%) and third in volume (9.8%).

%

of all imported potatoes are early potatoes

The EU is a net exporter of seed and main crop potatoes and the Netherlands was the no. 1 trader

billion EUR processed potatoes (mainly frozen chips and crisps)

Processing

Processed potatoes (mainly frozen chips and crisps) were worth EUR 9.4 billion, or 1.1% of the overall value of EU food and beverage industry output. Processing is concentrated in six countries.

Besides being consumed directly and traded as a raw commodity, potatoes are processed into four main types of product: frozen potatoes, dried potatoes, prepared or preserved potatoes, and potato starch. The overall value of EU processed potato production reached EUR 9.4 billion in 2015, or 1.1% of the value of production of the whole European food and beverage industry. With shares of 41.0% and 40.5%, crisps and frozen chips were the most important products in terms of value of production.

The EU was a net exporter of processed potatoes, with imports representing a mere 2.2% of the value of its own output. On average, the value of exports represented 15.1% of the value of production, although this includes figures of 44.4% in the case of potato starch and 32.0% for dried potatoes (flour, meal flakes, granules and pellets).

Potato processing took place mainly in six countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy. Although for reasons of data confidentiality, it is not possible to produce a single ranking, a degree of specialisation could be observed across countries. Italy was the leading country for frozen potatoes (uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water), with a share of 61.7% in value terms; Germany had the lion’s share in producing dried potatoes (74.0% and potatoes prepared or preserved as flour, meal and flakes (51.3%); the Netherlands produced a third of all European frozen chips (33.7%); and the United Kingdom registered the largest value share of crisp production (20.8%) followed by Germany (17.9%).

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