Swedish growers started harvesting the 2023 season’s first outdoor grown fresh potatoes earlier in May. They expect to harvest more volumes as the weather warms in the different growing regions of the country.
SydGrönt's fresh potato growers Jesper Ebbesson, Pontus Pojmark and Johan Svensson.
SydGrönt's started the harvest ‘premiere party’ as they call it on the farm of Johan Svensson on the farm on Bjäre, Sweden. “The first harvest was a total of 80 kg of potatoes, of which half from some of SydGrönt's new potato growers. The potatoes were sold to Svensk Potato who took the initiative to donate it to the Swedish grocery chains, 10 kg to each chain.”
SydGrönt is one of Sweden's largest suppliers of Swedish-grown fruit, vegetables and berries. The company is owned by their growers with profits going back to the member growers. SydGrönt is responsible for sales, transport, marketing and administration.
“We are many who have longed for a long time and now finally we can enjoy Swedish fresh potatoes again. SydGrönt's potato growers, who have extensive experience, will be able to harvest as the weather gets warmer more and also be able to offer washed fresh potatoes within a few weeks and throughout the Swedish season. I think the arrangement of gathering more growers before the premiere (start) is great, it shows that there are now finally Swedish fresh potatoes out in the stores,” says Svensson.
According to Roger Nolsa, chairman of the Swedish potato association called Patatisodlarna, they have a culture of only taking the really early potatoes and harvest only a small portion of that as a sort of symbolic gesture with the first produce or proceeds often donated to a good cause. “We harvest a really small mount. We still have the stored stock from last year. Only a small batch is sent to the market. We hope to start the bigger harvest in September and October.”
About 78% of the total potato harvest in Sweden comes from four of the southern provinces of Skåne, Halland, Västra Götaland and Östergötland. Nolsa says in Sweden they harvest about 500,000 tons per year, with a big focus on the local market and quality.
“If the potatoes have some type of cosmetic defect, that does not make it look good, then we may export it to the Baltics. Our market is focused on quality. Lately the market demand and prices have not been so high. Growers have not earned any money, they are only covering the cost to grow and store the potatoes. The big difference between the Swedish and European market is the focus on sizing. In Sweden we focus on 40-60 mm while in Europe they have bigger sizes. We normally have a lower harvest than in Europe. But in Sweden we don’t want anything bigger than 60 mm.,” concludes Nolsa.