Global trade volumes of frozen potato products stabilize, low priced imports from Belgium gain share in US imports
Food & Beverages
Analysts at the company report that global frozen potato trade volumes have stabilized in July, with the year-to-date volume remaining 0.5% above the pre-COVID levels of 2019. Compared to July 2019, the monthly trade volume was down 0.3%, driven mainly by a 7.6% decline in exports from Belgium and a 6.2% decline in exports from the Netherlands. Both countries continue to experience pressure on export prices, but with a below-average harvest and increased raw potato prices, the negative price effect is expected to phase out in the coming months. North American producers managed to up the monthly export volumes, but not as significant as the more than doubled exports from India. The sharp increase in exports from India is primarily related to the Philippines (+1.5 th. tonnes).
UK imports continue to decline after a minor recovery in June
A substantial part of the export decline for both Belgium and the Netherlands is caused by reduced imports from the UK. Imports by the UK have been below pre-COVID levels for most of 2021, due to which the year-to-date volume (400.6 th. tonnes) is over 20% below the level of 2019 (509.3 th. tonnes). With most of the social restrictions in the country eliminated, the reduced import appears to be an effect of the new trade situation after the country’s departure from the European Union.
Low priced imports from Belgium gain share in US imports
US imports are traditionally supplied largely by Canadian producers and at a YTD export volume of 598 th. tonnes on the total YTD import volume of 694 th. tonnes, the Canadian share remains large. However, the significantly cheaper priced exports from Belgium are gaining share: where the country exported 1 thousand tonnes between January and July in 2018, the export volume for the same period in 2021 has increased to 66 thousand tonnes. With container rates inflating costs for intercontinental export Belgian producers will see part of their cost advantage disappear, but with a price difference of €0.24/kg the gap to bridge is substantial.