The reason why potatoes are currently trading for 70% more than their long-term average price starts on the farm. Dr Johnny van der Merwe, a senior economic agriculturalist at North West University in Potchefstroom, claims it starts with the exceptionally long winter the nation just endured.
He says that the long winter had a significant impact on major vegetables in the country. The lingering winter meant that farmers could produce less of these vegetables. The fact that consumers and processors need more than is currently available are keeping the prices at a very high level.
Van der Merwe says potatoes are the best example of this, as for the past week their prices are 70% higher compared to the long-term average.
He looked at the average of weekly potato prices since 2010 and compared it to the current price. He also took the seasonal fluctuations in vegetable prices into account. "It is the highest it's ever been since the last decade.”
According to Van der Merwe, the sweet potato market equally performed well, producing prices that went over the 200% price mark. This is great news for producers, less so for the consumers.
"I have not even looked into the other vegetables, but sweet potato prices are significantly high. Sweet potatoes prices are 220% higher compared to the long-term average at the moment. So, it is a massive high and it's just due to a scarcity of products on the market at the moment.”