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David Sánchez, Pepsur Chief Marketing Officer:

"After this year's experience, we are confident that the EU will once again accept seed potatoes from Scotland"

UK seed potato producers have not been able to export to the EU since January 1, 2021, after the European bloc denied their product access to its market due to concerns related to the phytosanitary alignment of British production with European standards after Brexit.

"Imports of plants, seeds, and other plant propagating materials with a high phytosanitary risk, including seed potatoes, were automatically banned after Brexit," said David Sanchez, of Pepsur Marketing. "The ban was imposed because the UK became a third country, not because it has changed its production methods. It continues to produce seed potatoes in the same way as it did before Brexit. Scotland has always been recognized as an excellent producer of seed potatoes with great plant health thanks to its weather conditions, which reduce aphid attacks and the spread of viruses."

"It's worth noting that Scotland only produces base seeds (that is, category S and SE) and that they are free of many diseases that exist on the European continent," David continued. "We at Pepsur worked mostly with Scottish seed potatoes, which distinguished us precisely for their quality and health. We have worked with seed potatoes from continental Europe for the past three years. However, we're still talking to different entities to see if it's possible to import Scottish potatoes again. As we saw this year of seed shortages, these imports can be necessary. Europatat, the interlocutor between the European potato sector companies and associations and the European Union, is working on this, creating a working group for this issue."

The availability of seed potatoes in Europe this campaign has been under pressure. The NEPG estimated there was a 20% decrease in supply. "Not only has there been a lack of product, but -more importantly- it's faced health issues. The lack of Scottish seed potatoes has especially affected Spanish seed multiplier companies, which have been experiencing problems with viruses since imports and certain phytosanitary products were banned. The increase in aphids in crops, which are the vectors of the viruses, and the weather have only accentuated these issues.

"It's important to highlight that Scotland used to supply seed potatoes to Spain and that there have been declassifications of continental seeds in recent years. Having continued to have Scottish seeds would have been an important asset."

It should also be noted that the United Kingdom has continued to export potatoes to the Canary Islands, due to its insular condition. In addition, trade with Northern Ireland has been authorized since October 1, 2023. "All of this, including this year's experience, which could happen again next year, makes me hope the EU can accept Scottish seed potatoes again. That's what we are working on. An agreement between the UK and the EU for bilateral trade in seed potatoes is paramount."

"There's reason to believe that it'll be a long export campaign"
Pepsur Marketing has worked in the Portuguese market for more than 30 years. This year, however, it will start working in Portugal through its new subsidiary Pepsur Portugal, which began operating last May. "The fresh potato campaign started more than a month ago in the earliest areas where we work, mainly Cartagena and Mallorca. As a result of the lack of rain, the potatoes in Murcia have had very few health issues related to downy mildew. We are exporting new potatoes with good prices for farmers."

"There is a noticeable lack of potatoes in Europe and, with high prices in the field, this year we'll have to operate with small margins. There is demand, but these prices can slow down sales. Current free market prices are unaffordable for important potato consumers such as the industry. We must wait to see how the campaign develops, find out if yields increase, and if prices allow us to work throughout the entire chain, be it the industry or the market."

"Everything indicates that it will be a long export campaign because there will be good demand, and many people will hold to their stocks for as long as they can."

For more information:
PepSur Marketing
C/ La Perla, n.º 1 – bajo A,
47400 Medina del Campo, Valladolid (España)
[email protected]

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