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Were lessons learned? The Ukrainian potato season 2020/21 gathering pace

Growers in the southern potato producing regions of the Ukraine are reportedly well underway harvesting the early potato crop of he current season – and supplies are now starting to show up in the Ukrainian fresh produce markets.

Wholesalers and farmers say they have currently no problems to get produce sold through supermarket chains, or at wholesale and retail markets. Pricing levels are now largely determined by supply and demand trends in these markets.

According to analysts at market information company Fruit-Inform, the current prices of early potatoes vary between UAH 9-11/kg ($0.33-0.31/kg), which is a decline of 23% year-on-year. Fruit-Inform analysts point to the pricing instability experienced during the recent potato marketing season, and ask whether a trend towards lowering of prices will remain in effect during the current year?

The Ukrainian potato season 2019/20 was one of the most unprecedented during the whole history of Frut-Inform’s monitoring of the potato market. Imports were forecast to total 21,000 tons at maximum at the start of the marketing season, but it eventually exceeded 500,000 tons. Russia and Belarus were the main suppliers, as prices on those markets were on average about only a half or even a third of those in the Ukraine. Moreover, the Ukrainian market players started importing potatoes in the very beginning of the season already – June 2019.

What was the reason for such a radical change in the situation in one of the most important sectors of the Ukrainian fresh produce market?

According to growers, their yields were on average 9% lower in 2019 due to extreme weather conditions during the potato growing season. Above normal rainfall simply destroyed a part of the potato acreage during the first half of the summer. Then drought followed – which negatively affected fields without irrigation. In addition, accounting for more than 90% of Ukraine’s total potato production, small family farms did not use high-quality seed potatoes and crop protection products. As a result, despite huge imports, the total supply of local potatoes went down by at least 8% in the Ukraine in the past season, according to Fruit-Inform’s estimates.

Looking at the new season, Fruit-Inform analysts believe that there are some positive changes. Results from Fruit-Inform’s survey of Ukrainian potato farmers indicate that the supply of potatoes may grow by at least 5% in 2020. This will cause a strong barrier to guard against relatively inexpensive imports, and it is unlikely that prices will again set new records in the Ukrainian marketplace during this marketing season.

More detailed information about the Ukrainian potato situation in the 2020/21 season is available in the annual study “The Ukrainian apple, vegetable & potato production and price forecast for the season 2020/21”. Bayer Ukraine, one of the leading crop protection companies of the sector, is the main sponsor of this study.

To learn more about the study and its content, please feel free to contact Fruit-Inform:
Mr. Ievgen Kuzin
[email protected]

Source: Fruit-Inform

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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