The potato planting campaign in Spain will end in June and, even though it's still too early to determine the total area planted, the combination of various factors could contract the country's production this season.
"We estimate that the production of sweet potatoes in France will remain at the same levels as last year or even increase in area this season. However we expect a reduction in the harvest in Spain and Portugal, the largest producers in Europe, for the 2022/23 campaign," stated Javier Santana, of Vivero Santana.
“Last year there was a huge product offering that had an impact on prices. Competition from outside the European community was brutal, and not only from Egypt; there were also arrivals of products from South America and South Africa that do not even meet the requirements required from the European production. In addition, labor in those countries is much cheaper so they can establish their product in Europe at a very low price that makes it impossible for Spanish or Portuguese sweet potatoes to compete against."
“There's also the issue of water. Climate change has made it possible to plant sweet potatoes in many places, but we must not forget that sweet potatoes are a vegetable of tropical origin and need suitable conditions to grow. In the 90s, the region of Andalusia was the leading producer of sweet potatoes in Spain and almost all of Europe. Back then, producers cultivated the California variety, but starting in 2003 there was a change of trend, and the cultivation of the Beauregard sweet potato increased, the variety that is currently marketed throughout the world. This year, however, the drought in the Andalusian fields has led to a decrease in the area under cultivation."
“The war has also influenced this campaign,” Javier stated. "On the one hand, the labor available for this campaign in producing countries, such as Hungary, has decreased. On the other hand, when the supply of cereals from Russia and Ukraine was cut as a result of the conflict, the price of wheat, barley, and malt increased so many farmers decided to plant cereals in their fields this year."
Vivero Santana is the largest nursery in Europe for the production of sweet potato plants, specializing in this product since 1976. The company based in Velez-Malaga markets its plants in all markets of the continent, as well as overseas, offering a complete service to customers; from the sale of starting plant material to cultivation and post-harvest services, also providing its clients with advice to market their products.
The company is also the exclusive distributor in Europe of the sweet potato curing chambers developed by the American company Ivi Air, which ensure the total curing of the tubers in a period of between 5 and 7 days, which helps optimize the shelf life of the stored product by minimizing losses and claims from end customers, stated Javier Santana.
"The harvest in Spain will begin in mid-August/early September. However, due to all the aforementioned factors, we estimate that, in this campaign, Spain could produce up to 40% fewer sweet potatoes than last year."
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