Are potatoes from Egypt a solution for the potato shortage in Europe?

Yassen Abdelhay
Yassen Abdelhay: 'Egypt is the most reliable source to cover the [potato] shortage in Europe.'
Mayo 18, 2023
This year is marked by strong demand and insufficient supply of potatoes, a situation that professionals of the industry and media go so far as to call 'the global potato shortage'.

Yassen Abdelhay of the Egyptian company Arafa offers details on the reasons for this situation, and he elaborates on how Egypt is an ideal source of potatoes for Europe to alleviate this situation.

Yassen Abdelhay:
 
"The global demand for potatoes is increasing while plantings are stable and decreasing in some countries. Especially, demand for processed potatoes and French fries keeps increasing year after year, and prices are reaching record levels in 2023."

"EU factories generally cover their demand locally, but due to factors such as weather and new nitrogen rules, EU production is not sufficient any more. Europe is particularly more affected than others because it is an exporter of potato by-products such as French fries."
The global demand for potatoes is increasing while plantings are stable and decreasing in some countries. Especially, demand for processed potatoes and French fries keeps increasing year after year, and prices are reaching record levels in 2023.

EU factories generally cover their demand locally, but due to factors such as weather and new nitrogen rules, EU production is not sufficient any more. Europe is particularly more affected than others because it is an exporter of potato by-products such as French fries.

Yassen Abdelhay:
 
"Egypt is the most reliable source to cover the shortage in Europe."
 
Egyptian potatoes

Egyptian potatoes

Producers have a very attractive price, averaging 320 EUR/tonne (345 USD/ton) FOB in 2023. At the same time, European prices are reaching record levels.

The average FOB price in Belgium was between 400 and 450 EUR/ton (430 and 484 USD/ton) Belgapom on May 9, 2023, the average price for table potatoes in France is now 560 EUR/ton (603 USD/ton), the average price in Spain has passed the 700 EUR/ton (754 USD/ton) mark for the first time in history.

Prices will continue to rise until the new harvest in the EU, as stocks are depleted and the yield of the new harvest will certainly affect the following year's prices.

Yassen Abdelhay:
 
"Moreover, the quality of our potatoes is excellent from many growers, so much so that one cannot distinguish Egyptian potatoes from other potatoes of European origin."

"Exports from Egypt to EU countries are subject to special regulations that ensure our compliance with European standards. The potatoes are grown in pest-free areas (PFA), processed in certified packing stations, and exported by officially registered and monitored exporters."
The volumes produced this year in Egypt are not sufficient to cover the shortage in Europe, but the production can satisfy the market in the near future.

Yassen Abdelhay:
 
"Egypt has huge volumes, more than one million tons is available for export each year, but more are needed to solve the shortage."

"A strategic partnership between EU processors and Egyptian producers in the coming years is the ideal solution, as Egyptian producers have the opportunity to significantly increase their production if they have pre-approved contracts."

"A significant increase in cultivated area as well as an increase in the varieties required for table and processing potatoes is feasible and has already started in Egypt."

"The EU is already the second-largest market for Egyptian potatoes, where we export a wide range of varieties such as Lady rosetta, Carosu, and Hermes for chips, Santana, Agria, and Daimont for French fries."
The Egyptian government has launched several large-scale programs to reclaim desert land, including the "New Delta" mega-project that covers 924,000 ha of different crops. Potato is one of the strategic crops targeted by this project to meet domestic demand and increase exports.

Yassen Abdelhay:
 
"The government's efforts go beyond the continuous increase in acreage, and it supervises the entire potato chain very closely, from seed control to harvest and export."

"This year our company produced 200,000 tons, including 150,000 for processing use and 50,000 table potatoes, this volume represents an increase of 20% over last year."

"We are an approved supplier to the EU, and many of our clients in the processing industry in the EU prefer our potatoes to EU origins. We expect an increase in production of 20% to 50% next year."