South Africa: 22% More Expensive Potatoes due to Icy Weather in Limpopo
During August 29 – September 4 week, the average weekly price for potatoes in South Africa climbed by as much as 22% to USD4.72 for a 10kg bag, due to frost damage that affected Limpopo’s crops at the end of July.
The price is 7% higher than last year at the same time, Dr. Johnny van der Merwe, managing director of agricultural information group Agrimark Trends (AMT), said in his weekly YouTube video that tracks the market prices for fresh produce in South Africa, cited by Business Insider.
Limpopo, a major producing region of potatoes for this time of year, experienced icy weather in July that resulted in frost that left some crops damaged.
By the end of August, farmers were sending lower volumes to the fresh produce markets, and in turn, causing a spike in prices for some vegetable commodities.
Over the past decades, South Africa’s potato output has grown strongly, from 1.2m tons in 1990 to a record 2.5m tons in 2015. During the same period, the potato farming area declined, from 63,000 ha to 52,000 ha. Most of the 532 farms growing potatoes (2017) are relatively large farms, increasingly under irrigation (now around 80%), with yields averaging around 34 tons per hectare.
South Africa boasts a sophisticated seed potato industry and – thanks largely to the country’s rapid rate of urbanization – a vibrant potato processing sector, which utilizes some 400,000 tons of potatoes per year (2015), mainly for frozen French fries and chips. Annual potato consumption is around 30 kg per person.
The most common potato varieties grown in South Africa are Mondial and Sifra (2017). Additional varieties grown in South Africa include Markies, Avalanche, Valor, Lanorma, Fabula, Innovator, Hertha, and the Frito-Lay cultivar FL2108.