For the first time in a long time it is difficult to get potatoes in Tenerifea staple of the island diet that is beginning to become a luxury. The island’s supermarkets have begun to apply restrictions on the marketing of different types of imported tubers as a result of the closure of the English market due to a plague and the 60% drop in local potato production, which has already been exhausted. after the last harvest of the harvest between June and July.
The sale of potatoes is temporarily limited to a mesh of 3, 5 or 10 kilos per customer, as appears on the posters that have appeared in several supermarkets on the Island. These restrictions are intended to avoid a situation similar to the one experienced three years ago.os with the toilet paper effect: the rampant acquisition of this product during the beginning of the covid pandemic due to the false belief that it was going to be sold out. Massive purchases of paper caused it to run out in various supermarkets. Therefore, with this measure they want to prevent the hoarding of potatoes, after detecting people who took large quantities to speculate or store due to alarmism.
It was mid-July when the The Government of the United Kingdom issued a statement in which it reported that it had located adult specimens of the Colorado beetle.. This caused the closure of the English market, which is the main one that supplies Tenerife when local potatoes run out. This is a plague that appeared in Europe during the First World War. Although the British authorities clarify that these beetles are not dangerous to the health of humans or animals, they do cause serious damage to tubers and some vegetables. Its capacity to spread is such that the measures are drastic and can last three or four years.
The ‘supers’ of Tenerife try to avoid hoarding potatoes in homes with the measure
The secretary general of the Association of Farmers and Ranchers of Canary Islands (Asaga), Theo Hernando, He assures that “the main problem is that people are making a disproportionate stockpile of potatoes,” and that, therefore, “we are undersupplying the market ourselves.” Therefore, stores try to ensure that as many customers as possible have access to this basic food item, limiting it to certain quantities per purchase. Manuel Reyes, president of the Cooperativa de las Medianías and potato producer, states for his part: «“It seems strong to me that a food that was in every home and was self-produced has reached this stage in such a short time.”
Another consequence of this potato crisis is the rise in prices. In some places like the La Laguna Market it has quadrupled. Where potatoes used to be at 1.80 euros, they are now at 4.80 euros. Manuel Reyes clarifies that this comes from a long time ago, since “farmers and cooperatives have complained since the war in Ukraine and inflation that prices have increased a lot and we are generating losses.” He also argues that “this year the potatoes were already selling much more expensively,” before the closure of the English market, “due to the drought and the low performance of local production.”
In the Canary Islands there are two harvest periods for the common potato: in May-June and November-December. «It is early September and the first harvest is already over. That’s why there are very few potatoes and the ones that remain, imported ones, go up in price,” explains Pedro de la Paz, owner of store 50 of the La Laguna Market. «We were saved by those that came from England in September at 1.50 euros, but with the plague they want to charge us for them this year at 2 euros or more. That’s why importers here are looking for potatoes in Egypt or Tunisia that are cheaper,” he clarifies.
In some points such as the La Laguna Market, the price per kilo has quadrupled
This price increase It also depends on where they are sold. There are large commercial stores where you can find them for 2 euros, but in any case it has become more expensive, which adds to the difficulty of getting potatoes for the first time in many decades. In many supermarkets they sell out in the morning.
However, before the English plague, This sector was already affected by high temperatures. «It is increasingly difficult to carry out a potato harvest», emphasizes Manuel Reyes, from the Medianías Cooperative. “In March there was a lot of drought, since temperatures increased to exceed 30 degrees, and that causes significant quantities to be lost,” he indicates, while ensuring that “last year we were around 800,000 kilos, and this year we harvested only 300,000 ».