World Potato Congress comments on COVID-19 pandemic halting global trade

The World Potato Congress Inc. (WPC), a global potato network, is leading numerous local potato driven initiatives in developing regions of the world in response to growing food security concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among many economic sectors, the frozen potato products value chain has been “confronted with a true drama” according to WPC. Lockdowns in many countries resulted in closed restaurants and a drop in tourism has significantly reduced the consumption of processed frozen potato products.

“Millions of tonnes of potatoes will not be processed this year creating a disastrous financial situation for farmers and processors. Free distribution to food banks, use as animal feed and as a source of green energy will not be sufficient to utilize the mountains of potatoes. The risk of a so called ‘second wave’ of the virus and a possible renewal of the lock down measures will also affect next season’s crop,” the WPC explained in a media release.

“The socio-economic problems created by this in Western Europe and parts of North America will be minor compared to the likelihood of food insecurity and famine in many developing countries,” WPC added, noting that major suppliers of staple cereals, such as China, Vietnam and Russia, have limited exports.

According to a report by Reuters, Russia agreed to limit grain exports to 7 million tonnes from April to June to conserve supplies for the domestic market during the coronavirus outbreak. Other countries such as Cambodia and Egypt, also limited or completely banned exports of some agricultural products. However, one of Bloomberg’s latest reports, as of May 4, stated that “the wave of protectionist measures on agricultural goods that emerged as the coronavirus spread around the world has already begun to recede.” The Bloomberg report also broke down export limitations by country.

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