Harsh weather conditions during last summer and suboptimal harvest conditions leads to uncertain potato quality and an earlier-than-usual demand for imported potatoes. In addition, the conditions for export are very challenging due to the invasion of Russia in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions.
Higher demand for early potatoes has already been witnessed by Atzmona Potatoes Production, a leading Israeli supplier of regular and organic potatoes and carrots, offering quality fresh produce to the European market.
Heavy rains and floods in Central European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium, harmed part of the potato crop and affected the available product quality. This was translated into earlier-than-usual demand for off-season produce from Israeli suppliers.
Eitan Botzer, Atzmona’s managing director:
"We felt obligated to respond to customers requests and advance the supply this season. This season will be very challenging due to a combination of extreme weather events."During last month in southern Israel, where most local potato growers operate, was hit by ground frost. After two days the damage could be seen on the plant’s foliage. Most affected areas were the lower regions as temperature drop below -1 degree Celsius for more than 2 hours destroys the leaves of the potatoes and within one week we can see foliage burn.
This affects mainly two things, first the size of the potatoes and second of course the total yields. As a result, the plant strives to preserve its existing tubers in the soil instead of investing resources in development. The cold undoubtedly did affect the size of the product as well as the overall crop per hectare. Due to higher topography the ground frost luckily didn’t destroy much of Atzmona’s produce, only few varieties of baby potatoes were affected covering about 2 ha of area which was just 30% of depreciation in the leaves which means it's still growing.
Eitan Botzer, Atzmona’s managing director:
"Customers are busy calculating the produce in storage and adjusting it to remaining consumption months."Atzmona’s cold storage can store more than 3000 tons and are mostly used for their own purpose during March-June but in remaining 9 months they also offer other services. Atzmona’s growers have started collecting table and baby potatoes designated for shipping to the Spanish market. This harvest was Atzmona's earliest produce ever and was undertaken to meet a special request from a Spanish retailer.
"The challenging global logistical obstacles contribute their share to requests for adjusting shipment size and early delivery. Our logistics department has prepared a special lineup to meet future interest to provide European customers with fresh produce of excellent quality."
Atzmona growers are also currently starting to harvest spuds of the Georgina and Orchestra varieties, which are preferred by European consumers. Customers are showing specific interest in the Maris Piper variety and small cooking potatoes.
About Atzmona Potatoes Production
Atzmona Potatoes Production is a leading Israeli exporter of conventional and organic potatoes and carrots, offering quality fresh produce to the European market. Since its inception in 1999, with more than 20 years of experience as growers Atzmona’s has managed to sell its produce in more than ten countries across Europe, supplying various varieties of potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes to some of the continent’s leading supermarkets, chains, and retailers.
In year 2015, a major change took place among the main owners bringing more development along the way. The owner who joined them is originally a large grower and packer and has 3 packing houses, combined with their previously owned 2 packing houses, now they own a total of 5 packing houses.
Since then they are running efficiently as a major grower, packer, and exporter focused on achieving their customers demand. Their produce is cultivated by local farmers and community originally from Israel who have grown crops on their lands for generations, which allows them to offer a variety of fresh produce grown in optimal conditions.
They are exporting 50,000-20,000 tonnes of produce each year. They used to export 40,000-50,000 tonnes 10 years ago, but overall market shrunk as since past few years a lot of changes came in Europe.
Some of the new varieties that used to be available only during certain time of a year, now they grow all year round in some areas and people also learned how to keep potatoes and carrots cool and preserve them for longer duration. So the windows of chance that we have keeps shrinking. The other most important reason is the trend towards "local foods", as the government in most countries focuses on providing employment to their own growers and farmers and its very important for development of communities in a country.
Additional Exporting Challenges: COVID-19, Russian Invasion into Ukraine and Sanctions, Logistic backlog
Potato growing companies like Atzmona were facing enough problems during export and import due to Coronavirus pandemic and now they have a new challenge due to the ongoing war between Russia and Europe.
"There is a lot of pressure in the ports right now. We have 11 ports in Israel and each time there is 50 or 60 vessels outside waiting for the return to upload and unload and this conflict has been very frustrating because right now the rotation for all of companies who are working here have announced that they are not departing and will not be selling to Russia."Atzmona Potatoes Production LTD will keep on trying to improve itself and bring innovation in any way possible.
"So I think not only export- import but there are many other sectors which are very dependent on the Russian market and much of the produce which need to be exported from Europe or Israel itself will perish in quality or even might get damaged, leading to a lot of economic losses."