Local businesses have raised concerns regarding the supply of potatoes and French fries as record temperatures and severe drought negatively impact the supply of potatoes from Europe. Industry association Potatoes South Africa has confirmed, however, that local potato farmers are producing a surplus of fresh potatoes for the market’s needs.
“A distinction must be drawn between fresh potatoes and processed products such as French fries, as South African potato farmers are currently producing a surfeit of fresh, raw potatoes,” emphasises Potatoes SA Chief Executive Officer Willie Jacobs.
“One of the major issues facing farmers, however, has been finding suitable opportunities for storing and processing these potatoes to manage price volatility and profitability, and prevent waste. In the wake of European shortages, higher demand for locally manufactured frozen French fries therefore represents a highly attractive, mutually beneficial solution for the industry and for the country.”
According to Potatoes SA figures, South Africa produced an average of 2.6 million tons of potatoes per year between 2017 and 2021, and Jacobs estimates that some 12,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes are available at national fresh produce markets around the country every day.
Jacobs adds that the association is urgently investigating opportunities to invest in expanding local production facilities to meet high demand for French fries while supporting local potato farmers.
“South Africa is unique in that unlike many countries, our seasons and climate means that we have the ability to produce potatoes the entire year, ensuring steady supply.
“This said, we have also met with various businesses to discuss their needs for items such as French fries, and have noted concerns regarding gaps in supply chains for processed products.
“Moving forward, we firmly believe that through using private-public partnerships to invest in expanding production capacity, the potato industry will be able to create further value for the South African market, while driving sustainable socio-economic development.”