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Low EU potato stocks a boon for Israeli growers

April 9, 2013
With high demand for potatoes in Europe driven by low supplies throughout the continent, Israeli potato growers are enjoying robust prices for their produce. Though locusts threatened the potato and carrot seasons in the region, quick action by the nation's agricultural industry dealt with the problem and resulted in plentiful supplies of potatoes and carrots for a European market that's hungry for these products.

Tomer Ezra, managing director for Mehadrin, explained that they usually begin shipping potatoes during early April. But because there's been such a high demand from Europe for potatoes, their export season kicked off about two weeks ago. Those shipments have largely arrived in empty markets, which has made for high prices.

“When local potatoes are in the market, there's no room for us because prices are too low,” said Ezra. “But because stocks are relatively empty this year throughout Europe, there is room for our produce.” This has resulted in a situation where Israel has good supplies of potatoes this season and Europe is willing to pay a higher price for them. But this good situation was in danger of not occurring because of a threat of locusts earlier in the year.

“Luckily, we succeeded in taking care of the locust problem before they got to our fields,” said Ezra. He explained that the insects have become a problem that arises about once a decade, so when the first signs of an infestation were spotted in Egypt, the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and the nation's growers had time to take decisive steps to halt the bugs' progress.

“We fought against them fast and we didn't hesitate, so there was no damage from them this year,” said Ezra. That allowed potato growers to harvest a plentiful crop that will fetch good prices. Organic carrot growers, who started exporting carrots last month, were also in danger of being affected by locusts, but they also came out unscathed. Though the market for organic carrots is much calmer than that of potatoes because of prices fixed at the start of the season, carrot growers were also relieved to have a normal chance at a season.

“We had some quality issues with carrots early in the season,” said Ezra. “But that cleared up, and now prices are good and the market is nice.” The export season for carrots typically runs from February through June, and the export season for potatoes usually runs from April through June, though this year it began much sooner.

Source: Freshplaza
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