Producers reveal spud sale spike

Local potato producers have noticed a spike in spud sales due to patrons returning to restaurants amid relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite the increased demand, the industry is battling with rising costs and ongoing shortages.

Adding to the situation, despite Australia producing all New Zealand’s wedges and receiving French fries in return, a lack of available refrigerator containers to transport products between Australia and New Zealand means trade has halted, leaving local producers to pick up the fry shortfall.

Buckley Innovative Farming is a family business located at Mingbool and produces 22,000-24,000 tonnes of potatoes a year in various varieties for fries and crisps.

They are current suppliers to Smiths Chips, McCain Foods and UniGrain (an exporter of crisping potatoes to Asia).

Buckley Innovative Farming partner/manager Terry Buckley said due to unexpected weather events there was a lack of seed for next year’s harvest.

“Ballarat has battled large hailstorms destroying crops and the cold, wet weather in Tasmania during spring means they cannot grow Russet Burbank potatoes this year,” he said.

“Freight, fertiliser and fuel have risen significantly,” he said.

“We did not make much profit off this year’s harvest because the price for potatoes was already set and we had to face up to the increased costs.

“We are not the only ones facing these problems, it is industry wide.”

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