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Kiko Navarro, from Askar Go Fresh:

"The importers who take much longer to bring in potatoes from Egypt are going to get their fingers burned"

The arrival of Spanish new potatoes is going to enrich a market that, for months, has been supplied with imported storage potatoes from France, as well as fresh potatoes from Egypt, whose off-season exports to Spain have been rapidly gaining ground.

"The Egyptian potato campaign kicks off in the first weeks of January, and at Askar Go Fresh we work with them until the start of the Spanish campaign. Now in April, the harvest is starting in the earliest areas in Spain, like Mallorca, Cartagena, Seville or Cadiz, but the supply of Spanish potatoes won't fully meet the demand until mid-May, so there will still be market opportunities for Egyptian potatoes in Spain until then," says Kiko Navarro, a sales representative in Spain for this Lebanese company, specialized in trade between Spain and the Middle East. "However, it all depends on the weather. Last year, for example, it rained during part of May and June, so potatoes were imported until July."

"We only work with Egyptian potatoes and sweet potatoes during the off-season, when we also export products such as Spanish onions, oranges or clementines to the Emirates and Saudi Arabia," he says. "This year, the measures implemented to prevent the entry of the bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum at customs are causing delays and hold-ups, which are leading to an increase in the price of potatoes, as such costs must be reflected in the final price."

"Just this week, we have cleared 4 containers at customs with a delay cost of 27 cents per kilo, which we need to take into account when setting the final price."

"To this we must add the fact that French potatoes have also been reaching high price levels. It has already been clear to us for a long time that if there is not enough local supply, potatoes will end up becoming expensive."

"Just this week, Spunta potatoes from Cadiz have been auctioned off in bulk (unsorted) for 0.85 € /kg. It will take a little while for prices to drop, so considering the delays at customs, the importers who are taking much longer to bring in potatoes from Egypt are going to get their fingers burned."

"We should mention that some of the freight forwarders we work with have told us that they have not detected the bacterium in their analyses this year or the last, nor have any imports been halted," says Kiko. "Some shipments have been slowed down at customs, but we are still shipping and selling at good prices."

Askar Go Fresh stand at Fruit Logistica.

Egypt mainly grows potato varieties such as the Mondial, Cara, Spunta and Lady Roseta, which meet the requirements of the European market. "In addition to potatoes, Askar Go Fresh works with other interesting products from Egypt. Last year we imported mangoes of the Osteen and Naomi varieties from June to November, and we ended the year with the Kent and Keitt."

"In Spain, red mango varieties are very popular, and the only difference is that in Egypt the mangoes are usually covered with paper bags to prevent the sand in the wind from damaging the fruit, so the color of the varieties that should be red when ripe is a bit greener. However, they have an extraordinarily sweet flavor; in fact, we achieved such good results that this year we are going to work with Egyptian mangoes again throughout the second half of 2024."

For more information:
Askar Go Fresh
Calle San Vicente Mártir n.º 84 - P1 Ofic. 1B
46002 Valencia, Spain
Tel.: 744 70 90 00

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