2 Feb 2017

NZ fills Australia's potato shortage

8:16 am on 2 February 2017

New Zealand potato farmers and processors are expected to profit from a shortage of the vegetable in Australia.

potato farming

Photo: 123rf

The shortage was sparked when crops in the country's southern states were hit with heavy rain and flooding last year.

About 75 percent of New Zealand's processed and frozen potatos are exported to Australia, with over 44,000 tonnes exported last year at a value of $55 million.

Potatoes New Zealand's chief executive Chris Claridge said exports to Australia are expected to rise even further this year.

"What we're projecting for the coming year is that we're going to see an increase in exports into the Australian market, primarily because there appears to be a shortfall in production and a shortage of potatoes due to growing conditions."

That was good news for New Zealand's 170 potato growers, he said.

In total, processed potato exports have increased by $10m in the past year, jumping from $70m in December 2015 to over $80m the same time in 2016.

Mr Claridge said New Zealand exports potato products to about 25 different countries but it was the demand in Asian countries driving exports up.

"Demand for frozen fries has been growing in the Asian market as those people start adopting a western diet," he said.

"There's been continuous growth and demand into South East Asia and up into China, and we know that Japan imports around $500m worth of frozen fries a year. Our share of that export market is very small at the moment. But we've gone from $300,000 worth of exports into Japan to $3m, which is a 10 fold increase."

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