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Italian producers invest less in potatoes

AOP UNAPA is increasingly worried about the current situation.

The 2020-21 campaign ended with market prices that were not very satisfactory for Italian producers. The effects of the pandemic such as the closure of restaurants and canteens and the lower purchasing power of families certainly determined a drop in consumption even for commodities like potatoes.

On a commercial level, the aggressive policies employed by foreign operators, mainly French ones, generated tension between supply and demand, leading the big retail chain to request Italian produce on special offer. The higher production, processing, storage and logistic costs eroded margins for the entire chain.

Also due to the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the 2021-22 campaign started with a widespread decrease in investments. There are multiple reasons behind this: the increase in the prices of energy and technical means have led to a hike in production production costs, which we have estimated to be 30% higher than in the past campaign (€8,000 to €11-12,000 per hectare).

The extreme heat and lack of rain, both in the winter and in spring, are forcing producers to a use irrigation massively to achieve at least enough quantities to cover the expenses. In addition, the presence of a few phytosanitary problems, particularly that related to wireworms, are also undermining the sustainability of investments.

The lack of promotion of the domestic production has generated a constant decrease of potato crops down to the current 33,000 hectares. If this situation continues, potato cultivation in Italy will progressively disappear, despite the efforts made by our sector to meet the increasingly demanding standards of consumers and the big retail chain. 

If this were to happen, more and more foreign produce will be introduced to meet domestic demand, which though provides fewer guarantees when it comes to traceability and food safety.

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