Chile: Potato producers end a complex season

Potato producers aren't very happy with how the 2016/2017 season ended. High production and low prices were the keynote of the period, according to The Potato Market 2016/2017 Season, a report published by Javiera Pefaur, of the Department of Market Analysis and Sector Policy of Odepa.

"It has been more than five years since the national average prices to wholesalers have been as low as in this season." The causes of this decrease in prices aren't completely clear, but authorities estimate it was caused by the increase in production in the south.

Another possible cause is that this year's production increased because many farmers opted to plant potatoes, which they feel is a relatively safe alternative, because their usual crops didn't have attractive prices.

In addition, estimates were, if the crop had a similar performance to the previous year, and since the area had only increased by 1.1%, the country would produce 1.18 million tons of potato this year. However, the volume exceeded the initial estimate by 22%, mainly because the potatoes achieved very good sizes thanks to good weather conditions.

In addition, many producers decided not to store their production, and placed it in the market because of the increase in the presence of late blight, caused by the rainy spring and mild temperatures, which had an impact on the quality of the potatoes. As a result, there was an oversupply that inevitably affected the product's price.

This season's increase in production and fall in prices made evident that there is a low capacity for the industrialization of potatoes, which according to Javiera Pefaur would allow a more profitable outflow in this kind of situation.

Finally, the specialist highlighted the need to have an optimum sanitary quality, because "it is a determining factor in the commercialization of potatoes within Chile.


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