Cyprus & World News

ECONOMY: Cyprus potato prices sky-rocket due to a shortage

15 November, 2018

Consumers are complaining about the high price of potatoes, with officials attributing the steep increase to a shortage of spuds in the Cypriot market lasting almost three months now.

Despite reassurances from stakeholders that fresh potatoes will be hitting the market soon to push prices down, spuds have seen their price sky-rocket to €2 per kilo.

In September and October, the shortage was created by a drought while early exports left the island with a serious shortage of potatoes with prices in September and October going up to €1.30 and €1.40  respectively.

A senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture said that the absence of potatoes from the market was acutely felt, while prices are currently higher than the same period last year.

“Potatoes were sold at around 1.80 euro mid-November 2017, while prices now are closing in on €2,” said the official.

He attributed the high prices to the fact that emphasis was given to exports over the local market. “Coupled with problems caused by the drought, this led to the market being left with very small quantities of potatoes,” said the officer.

He expects prices to drop over the coming weeks as more of the new crop enter the market and needs will be met by the winter crop.

Charalambos Anastasiou, the General manager of the Pancyprian Team of Potato Producers (POP), a company set up by farmers to promote potato exports, said that producers had exported quantities set aside for foreign markets by the end of May, while saving an amount which was considered to be sufficient to cover the needs of the local market until mid-November when new crops would be made available.

The head of POP said the season had ended prematurely, and potatoes were harvested 3-4 weeks earlier as temperatures rose.

This, in combination with a shortage of potatoes in Europe caused by bad weather conditions, led to a rise in demand with Cypriot producers sending out more potatoes in June and July.

“High temperatures and lower than expected rainfall led to serious shortages in countries like Britain, which is traditionally our biggest customer,” said Anastasiou.

While this gave Cypriot farmers an edge over their competitors, it put a strain on the local market. This was coupled with extreme weather conditions on the island which destroyed a significant part of new crops cultivated from June onwards. “Local producers lost 30% of the crops to the draught,” said POP’s General Manager.

Anastasiou said potato prices were still going northward because the quantities of new crops currently entering the market are not yet sufficient to meet demand.

Meanwhile, the drought has caused an island-wide shortage in potatoes as Turkish Cypriots have also experienced a dearth of potatoes with prices going through the roof. A kilo of potatoes in the north of the island are being sold at double their price in the south.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, potatoes were sold at €4 a kilo during the first week of November.

Officials in the north attributed the shortage to the bad weather conditions and to poor quality potatoes imported from Turkey which were not suitable for the market.

Turkish Cypriot potatoes sold to Greek Cypriots through the Green Line Trade have also dropped significantly. Despite the year is not yet out, and fresh crops being uprooted, the Turkish Cypriot potato trade with Greek Cypriots has taken a beating.

According to reports, just 511 tonnes of potatoes were sold to Greek Cypriots in the first 10 months of the year, an amount nowhere near those sold the previous two years.

In 2016 1,860 tonnes were sold, while 1,411 tonnes were sold in 2017 to Greek Cypriots.