Finweek English Edition - - Economic Trends & Analysis - JO­HANN VAN ZYL jo­hannv@fin­

LIMPOPO AND THE FREE STATE re­main South Africa’s lead­ing potato prov­inces, based on de­liv­er­ies to the coun­try’s 20 large fresh pro­duce mar­kets. In 2007, 56% of the pota­toes that went to those mar­kets came from those prov­inces. Of the 92,4m, 10kg pock­ets sup­plied to SA’s mar­kets last year, 22,3m (24%) came from Limpopo’s top pro­duc­tion area. The three pro­duc­tion ar­eas in the Free State pro­vided a com­bined 32%.

How­ever, none could beat the qual­ity (and tim­ing) of Limpopo’s pota­toes, which last year fetched an av­er­age R28,16/pocket for the pro­duc­ing farm­ers, as against the av­er­age mar­ket price of R21,62 for SA as a whole. The three pro­duc­tion re­gions of the Free State fetched a low R16,65 to R23,24/pocket.

How­ever, Pi­eter van Zyl, man­ager for in­dus­try in­for­ma­tion at Pota­toes SA, says the price also de­pends on the time of the year that the re­gions mar­ket their crops. “For ex­am­ple, take KwaZu­luNatal, the fifth-largest sup­plier to the mar­ket. Though 71% of the prov­ince’s crop was Class 1 pota­toes, a large por­tion of it was mar­keted early in 2007, when the prices were un­der se­ri­ous pres­sure. That’s why an av­er­age price of only R17,49 was re­ceived. On the other hand, Limpopo pro­vides up to 70% of its pro­duc­tion in its high sea­son and at this time its farm­ers more or less de­ter­mine the price.”

As far as the mar­kets are con­cerned, the ma­jor share of pota­toes still flows through the Jo­han­nes­burg (28%) and Pre­to­ria (16%) mar­kets, which are of course sit­u­ated in SA’s largest con­sumer mar­kets.

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