The price of potatoes has reached record levels. The low production in Europe due to the dry weather has caused the export figures to plummet in the main producing countries (France, the Netherlands and Germany), while Spain, where the harvest has not been so bad, has been selling more abroad due to the good prices paid.
All this has led to a drop in the supply that has caused prices to double. The rise has also reached the supermarket shelves.
Without a doubt, the most affected have been the large consumers. This is the case at Doruel, based in the Spanish province of Teruel, which runs a potato chip factory in the town of Villarquemado. "We are buying the potatoes for twice as much as usual. They currently cost 0.58 Euro per kilo, when we usually pay 0.30 Euro," explains the general director of the plant, Julián Rubira.
At least, the company only has to turn to those suppliers during the summer months, since the rest of the year it is self-sufficient with its own harvest. "The quality of our potatoes is so high that we harvest them in early October and we can keep them in the chambers until June," says Rubira.
The dry weather that has hit much of Europe has caused yields to fall by around 20% and reduced the quality of the harvest, causing the price of Spanish potatoes to skyrocket. "A month and a half ago, the early potatoes of Andalusia and Murcia reached prices as high as 400 Euro per ton, when the usual is 180 or 200 Euro," said the union leader of UAGA, Toño Romé.
The potatoes of Castile-León, the region with the largest production in Spain, have recently hit the markets, allowing prices to fall to 300 Euro per ton, as Romé points out.
However, he says that the potato sector has always been characterized by its volatility. "Years ago, some batches were sold for up to 80 Euro per ton, when the production costs amount to around 120 Euro," he says.
This price instability is precisely the reason why the tuber's production has collapsed in Spain. In fact, the country became a net importer of potatoes after the acreage fell from more than 200,000 hectares to just over 70,000.
As a result of all this, the price at origin of half-season potatoes in Castile-León, La Rioja or Albacete has exceeded 0.40 Euro per kilo, compared to 0.16 last year.
According to COAG, the final consumer paid an average price of 1 Euro per kilo, compared to an average price at origin of 0.34 Euro per kilo.