Potato prices in South Africa have dropped in recent weeks, but that is after a good run of more than a 100% increase over the last year. Current prices are hovering around R100 per 10-kilogram bag. Adverse weather conditions earlier in the year and an element of frost in Limpopo, which is a significant potato-producing area, are said to have contributed to lower output.
Agricultural Economist at Amtrends, Dr Johny Van der Merwe: “We saw those prices coming down again and that was, again, due to some high volumes entering into the market and we saw with the latest heatwave that we had in the past couple of days that we can expect some lower quality as well on the markets. The potatoes don’t really respond well to those significant-high temperatures above the 40-degree mark that we saw into the northern areas of South Africa and we can expect, therefore, slightly lower quality of potatoes as well.”
Van der Merwe says these dynamics will likely see potato prices come under even more pressure. But the industry says it sees continued solid demand for its crop.
Experts also expect potato demand to go through the roof on account of the festive season, more so with the relaxation of COVID-19 measures and the ramp-up in vaccinations, allowing for people to socialize more than before.
Despite this positive expectation, input costs are expected to rise anywhere between 30 and 40 % for the agricultural sector.