Low Potato Prices Destroying Producers

By 14 August 2016

Consumers say that local potatoes should not be more expensive than German or French potatoes.

Croatian farmers must set aside 40 percent more money for seed, fertilizers and other costs involved in potato growing and they cannot compete with prices abroad, says Damir Mesarić, potato producer from Belica, a village in Međimurje with the biggest production of potatoes in Croatia, reports Večernji List on August 14, 2016.

However, the village’s golden age is now gone. “We lived better twenty years ago when we had seven acres of potatoes than now with twenty. Today, we get less money and more work”, says another potato farmer Nenad Novak. What is making their life difficult are the imports and sale of potatoes in shopping malls at unbelievable prices during the harvest.

Potatoes still have the status of “social food” which is constantly on sale. One retailer chain lowers the price, the next week another one does the same and so on. Soon enough, the price gets to the point where producers cannot even cover their investments. They need a minimum of 1.50 kuna per kilogram to earn something and invest further in the production.

“With 1.30 kuna, we can only cover the costs, without making any profit”, explains Mesarić, who is also the president of the Međimurje Association of Manufacturers of Mercantile Potatoes. Members of his association complain of low purchase prices offered by buyers. They are also ready for protests and are asking the government to propose the law on a fair trade practice similar to the one that Hungary has adopted.

Under pressure from supermarket chains and imports from Egypt, Cyprus, Tunisia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as discounts at the shopping malls, in mid-July the purchase price already dropped to 1.80 kuna and it continued to decline. One retailer is already offering potatoes to its customers for 1.99 kuna, which means that they are getting it from producers for only 90 lipa. Some producers are keeping the potatoes in cold storages until the next spring hoping that the price will go up, but it is probably all in vain.