“The association is working on a future national promotional campaign as well as a certified quality label."
Despite high levels of rainfall during the winter which could well have led to a reduction in cultivated area for new potato in Andalusia, or at least caused delays in many plantations, forecasts from the Association of New Potato Growers & Exporters indicate the area is the same size as last season.
Although the provinces of Cadiz and Cordoba have recorded a significant reduction in their area, - up to 20% - this has been offset by the increases in Seville in excess of 15%. The latter represents more than half of the entire new potato crop in Andalusia.
Mariano Ruiz Perea, President of the Association of New Potato Growers & Exporters in Andalusia, predicts, “...surface area will be around 12,000 hectares like last year”.
Rains in January and February did cause delays in plantations in Cordoba and Cadiz. Seville was not so affected and sowing was carried out correctly in December.
From the market point of view, this occurrence which at first sight could have negative consequences, could well be positive because if the growing cycle continues under normal weather conditions, the sector will be able to guarantee a stable supply from the end of April onwards with crops from Seville, until the end of June. In this way “we will be able to avoid the collapses which can occur with such a concentrated supply and continue to feed demand in the best way possible both at home and abroad”.
As far as sales expectations are concerned, the sector predicts between 15 and 17% of the total crop will be set aside for export leaving the larger share for the domestic market.
This high percentage for the domestic market stems from demand from national packers to substitute stores of potatoes harvested last autumn originating in France.
On the other hand, the association is seeking to launch a promotional campaign for the Spanish market so consumers can discover the quality of their products. They are also working towards using a certified quality label.
Exports of Andalusian potato represent more than 75% of Spain’s total new potato exports. This figure translates into more than 60,000 tonnes sold in Europe. The main destinations are Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Belgium.
Over the last ten years the area set aside for this crop in Andalusia has declined by 44% while the crop itself has only fallen by 35% due to improvements in yield thanks to technology.
Mariano Ruiz Perea comments that there are very distinct reasons for this. “In the first place there is the influence of the “call effect and withdrawal from the market” depending on variance in price. This is why the area set aside for this crop has changed significantly depending on the prices obtained in the previous season. The persistent drought has also had a negative impact. Thirdly, Ruiz Perea affirms “although there is now an economic slump, crops such as sugar beet and cotton are alternatives with better chances of getting greater returns”.
Generally speaking, although the season got off to a shaky start, crop growth in optimum weather conditions is making the sector confident about the current season in spite of the general feeling of crisis and market pressures.