The potato season, now over in the Spanish region of Castile-Leon, has been inevitably affected by the spread of the pandemic and its consequences on the demand. Moreover, in some areas, the weather conditions have taken a toll on the quality of production, as reported by Juan Manuel Coello, Operations Director of Patatas Meléndez. "Without a doubt, this campaign has been marked by COVID-19, and that of 2021 will very likely also be affected. Still, we can talk of a positive balance. At Patatas Meléndez we have been able to meet our commitments when it comes to the products' distribution and our contracts with growers," says Coello, stressing that all potatoes have been sold for prices above the production costs, guaranteeing the crop's profitability for the growers.
Spanish potatoes all year round
During the winter months, Patatas Meléndez works with storage potatoes from Castille-Leon until the new potato season starts in southern Spain. "In this way, we manage to meet the consumer demand, given the clear interest on local productions," says Coello. "At the end of December, we started marketing potatoes from the second harvests in the regions of Murcia and Andalusia, which will overlap with the start of the new potato season, which this year is expected to begin in April." The aim, says the Operations Director of Patatas Meléndez, is to guarantee the supply of new potatoes all year round.
To date, they have sold around 70,000 tons of potatoes from Castile-Leon.
Patatas Meléndez is also boosting sales in the frying segment with the Agria and Lady Amarilla varieties, 85% of which come from plots in the region.
Avoiding bottlenecks in 2021
When asked about the prospects for 2021, Coello says that "inevitably, there is uncertainty because of the health crisis, but the growers we work with, who are devoted to the production of quality potatoes for washing, are optimistic. Above all, we need to work together. Right now, Patatas Meléndez is offering stability and security through its agreements, and this is highly appreciated by those devoted to the land's cultivation."
"Lately, we have noticed that more people are planting early, as there is a belief that the July potato usually reaches better prices in Castile-Leon, so we need some good organization in order to avoid bottlenecks in the market," says Coello.