Russia causes shortage of seed potatoes in the European Union

The developments on the seed potato market in the EU countries are remarkable. According to EastFruit analysts, seed potato prices are much higher than usual this season, especially after the relatively unsuccessful previous seasons. Buying seed potatoes, even at a high price and in large quantities in their main export country, is now very problematic.

Although the Netherlands currently does not supply any seed potatoes to Russia, it is Russia that makes the largest contribution to a shortage of seed potatoes in the Netherlands. Incidentally, Russia itself used to be a fairly large exporter of seed potatoes. The country came in at the end of 2020 in the top 7 global exporters of seed potatoes, with an export of more than 70,000 tons. The main markets for seed potatoes from Russia were Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

How could Russia be involved in the shortage of seed potatoes on the European market? We already wrote that in the 2021/22 season Russia faced a serious shortage of potatoes, which was very difficult to compensate. This led to a knock-on effect and potato prices started to rise rapidly in many countries in the region, especially in Central Asia, where Russia previously exported potatoes. Countries in Central Asia have now started to compete with Iran and Pakistan for the import of potatoes from Russia.

Egypt, usually the largest supplier of potatoes to Russia and a major importer of seed potatoes from the Netherlands, has cut production for the 2022 winter harvest. As a result, Russian importers pushed potato prices in Egypt to record highs, forcing Egyptian growers to urgently place new orders for seed potatoes.

Potato prices have not only increased in Egypt, but even in countries that did not supply potatoes to the Russian market and bought potatoes in Egypt, for example. So all these countries have rushed to look for seed potatoes. Uzbekistan is no exception. Since the Netherlands supplies more than half of the worldwide export of seed potatoes, it has received the most import orders.

Dutch companies were not prepared for such a sharp increase in demand. Moreover, most of their potatoes are already contracted with local and European growers. Consequently, not all importers from third countries have had the opportunity to buy seed potatoes in the Netherlands.

It can therefore be assumed that seed potato prices will continue to rise across the region in the coming weeks. But whether the potato cultivation will increase in the new season is a big question. One thing is clear: the costs of potato cultivation are already high, especially after a sharp increase in the costs of crop improvement agents.

The current Russian wholesale prices for potatoes are 1.5 times higher than last year and reach an all-time high. The same is observed in most countries in the region, with the exception of Ukraine, where potato prices are extremely low. However, due to the low quality of the potatoes and the lack of access to the markets of most countries, Ukraine is unable to get rid of the surplus of potatoes in its market.

Source: East Fruit

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