Potato consumption increasing despite price fluctuations

Potatoes SA (PSA) has released its latest crop estimate figures. From January to August about 7,9 million bags more were sold on markets than the same time last year.

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According to Pieter van Zyl, information manager at PSA, this is a 12% increase for this period.

The average price for farmers was lower, at about R5,75 per 10kg pocket, but according to PSA prices usually reached a high in October before dipping again until the beginning of December.

He said that in the past five to six years PSA had noticed that consumers were less price sensitive when it came to buying potatoes.
“Something positive is definitely happening in the market,” he said.

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In 2009 after the recession growers planted 5 800 hectares less, prices increased, and consumers still bought potatoes.

“This shows us that potatoes are not viewed as a luxury product, but as a necessary item and vital part of their diet,” he says.

The PSA September market report indicated that in comparison with the same time last year, about 2 800ha more have been planted. Crop estimates showed that the volumes to markets during September and October was likely to be less than in August. Prices have already started recovering, which was in line with the long-term trend.

Looking forward, rainfall could result in upward pressure on prices as producers might struggle to lift potatoes. High temperatures could also have a negative impact on the quality of the crop and the price of potatoes. An increase in hectares planted in Limpopo and a relative warm winter may result in more potatoes coming to the markets than normal.