PROVINCIAL S-MASH HITS
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.