Ucrania: Potato exports from Ukraine in 2023 are record high
According to EastFruit analysts, in the first half of 2023 Ukrainian farmers managed export record volumes of fresh potatoes, despite Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Yet, these records have bitter aftertaste and indicate serious problems for the sustainability of this industry.
Let’s start with facts and figures. Exports of commercial potatoes from Ukraine in the first half of 2023 amounted to 19.8 thousand tons – an absolute record. The last time Ukraine exported more than 10 thousand tons of potatoes in the first half of the year was 10 years ago, i.e. in 2013, when exports amounted to 14.7 thousand tons.
In addition, potato exports in the first six months of 2023 were 2.3 times higher than in 2022 for the same period and 3.8 times higher than the average over the past five years. The numbers look great, so what’s the problem?
And the problem is what we have already mentioned many times. High potato exports from Ukraine usually coincide with huge problems for growers. The price chart for potatoes in the first half of the year says it all.
Only US $0.16 dollars per kg was the wholesale price of potatoes at the end of March 2023 in Ukraine. For any farmer who has ever grown potatoes, it is obvious that such a low price cannot possibly cover the costs of growing and even the costs of high-quality seed material.
The second bad news is that 91% of the record volume of potato exports from Ukraine went to one country; Moldova. Why? The answer is low quality.
“In Ukraine most potato growers do not see the difference between raw materials and finished products. Products dug from the field could get to the store’s shelves without any further cleaning, sorting, sizing, and packaging. At the same time, those who invest in potato post-harvest handling often find that after potatoes look even worse than before. This means we need to start with a complete revisit of approaches to cultivation, as Thomas Carpenter, a potato grower from Ireland, very clearly demonstrated through personal example at one of our conferences."
"Alas, the industry’s response to comments regarding product quality is usually completely unconstructive, and this leads to the fact that for many years in a row, producers continue to fall into the trap of low quality, which makes Ukrainian potatoes “unexportable.” Consequently, the absence of export possibilities causes prices to fall below the production cost,” says Andriy Yarmak, economist of the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
For more information: east-fruit.com