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Sweet potatoes and new warehouse for PPAS Consortium

The Italian Sila potato PGI campaign will start between 15 and 20 September

"The new potato sales season starts on the opposite footing to last year. In the same period, in 2020, there was an excess of supply, with very low prices in various parts of Italy, ranging from € 0.08 to 0.10/kg. Today, however, we are talking about an expected shortage of product, especially for long-life varieties. Throughout Italy, including the Calabrian areas, drought, heat and spring frosts have led to a drop in production yields. Add to this the fact that smaller areas were sown this year and the fact that northern Europe also seems to have declining yields, and it's easy to see why. It will certainly be a much more balanced year," said Albino Carli (pictured below), director of the Consorzio Produttori Patate Associati (PPAS).

"With regard to the Sila plain, yields are in line with expectations, although we will have to wait for the end of the harvest to have accurate data. The harvest starts between 15 and 20 September. We expect smaller calibers, although this has yet to be confirmed, and we may see a drop in production for the early varieties." 

According to Carli, however, the quality of the potatoes is excellent. "The heat and drought have mitigated the presence of diseases and the tubers seem nice and healthy enough to be stocked until the end of the sales season."

This year, the PPAS consortium has increased the certified area for the Sila potato by 20%. "If the harvest decreases, this will be compensated by the larger certified area. In terms of overall crop availability, we think we will be in line with previous years. In the general context, with lower availability of Italian potatoes, the Sila potato should gain market share. This had also grown last year, as it had in the previous ten years." 

A trend that has been going on for some time is the increase in sales of the PGI-labelled products, despite the fact that potato consumption in general tends to be stable or declining. "This is linked to a greater consumer awareness of buying quality products that are healthy, genuine and whose traceability and origin are guaranteed. I assume that consumption today is also influenced by greater familiarity with the production and cultivation methods that are more respectful of the environment." 

(Photo provided by Albino Carli)

Sweet potatoes                                                                                    In addition to the Sila potato, to enrich its range, the PPAS consortium will also begin marketing sweet potatoes of exclusively Italian origin from mid-October.

"These are sweet potatoes grown on about 20 hectares in warm areas of Calabria, such as the areas of Isola Capo Rizzuto and Lamezia Terme, where we aim to include farms in our consortium. We believe that the sweet potato can become a key product, which is often already in high demand and is slowly making its way into the Italian culinary scene. We have reserved a processing line in our new packing station for this crop. We also have commercial agreements with a number of companies in the Salento region of Apulia for the collection of any other crops we might need."

(Photo provided by Albino Carli)

According to Carli, the aim is to have Italian potatoes for 12 months of the year. "We may not be able to achieve this goal for the 2021/2022 season, due to the still limited quantities, but we are currently engaged in structuring cold rooms for annual storage to match the next harvest."

New warehouse                                                                              "The new packing station is nearing completion. We are in the final stages of this major expansion investment, funded by the Region Calabria's PSR-Rural Development Program. The usable area has almost doubled. In addition to the development of the warehouse, we have renewed the potato processing and packing lines, optimized the spaces for the flow of goods and created an outdoor area of approximately 13,000 square meters for loading/unloading," said Carli.

(Photo provided by Albino Carli)

One wing of the new warehouse will soon be in use with the start of the new season. The other wing, which is nearing completion, and a new office building will be completed within 5-6 months. 

(Photo supplied by Albino Carli)

High raw material costs and new price lists                                    In addition to the raw material-related increases, which in some cases are three times higher than last year, there has also been a general increase in post-harvest costs. "Plastic materials for potato sacks have increased significantly in price. The same applies to the cardboard boxes in which we place the potato sacks. Wood has become three times more expensive."

"These increases do not reflect the current balance between supply and demand. Therefore, despite the fact that it could have been a year of greater speculation on the Sila potato in the 1.5 kg package, which is our flagship product (i.e. the one purchased by large-scale trade), we have decided to limit the increase in the price list to just 10%, with an official price of 1.10 euro/kg."

The PPAS Consortium during Macfrut 2021

For the other lines, the increases are likely to be greater, as they are linked to general market trends.

"I think we are at a point where the chain needs to unite around one basic concept. With a small loss of each link, we should try to limit the increases for the consumer, by coming together and forming one front," concluded Albino Carli. 

For more information: 
Consorzio Produttori Patate Associati Soc. Coop. Agr.
Via del Turismo 30 - Fraz. Camigliatello Silano
87058 Spezzano della Sila (CS) - Italy
+39 (0)984 1636301

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