Europe, UK, Ireland

The drought issue: Tension developing between Dutch potato farmers and french fry processors

Dutch potato growers and potato processing companies will start talks on Friday to determine who is to pay for the problems with this year’s harvest due to the consequences of the drought, Dutch broadcaster NOS (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting) reports. Farmers want processors to share in the cost of irrigation. Some 80% of the Dutch potato crop is sold under contract to potato processors, in particular the french fry processors who, on their part, contract with big fast food chains such as MacDonalds and KFC. Contracts are not in the favour of farmers this year, though. 

Contracts with growers stipulate payment of around nine cents a kilo for potatoes of at least 40 mm in diameter, while the price of non-contracted potatoes or potatoes that are too small for processing use usually sell for much less – last year it sold for around three cents a kilo because of a surplus. This year potatoes are being sold on the free market for 30 cents a kilo and the price is expected to rise further. Farmers now say the processors are getting too good a deal and want to be paid more. But the processors are not keen to do so, saying that the growers are bound by contract to deliver produce as specified.

According to Jaap van Wenum, of the farming organisation LTO, “‘Processors want potatoes that are at least 40 millimetres in diameter, but farmers will not make that this year.” Farmers will receive less than the contracted price of 9 cents per kilo for potatoes less than this specification. Read the English report on The full Dutch report can be read on the NOS website