Sa Pobla.—Joan Company, Managing Director of the s'Esplet export cooperative in Majorca's potato growing region of Sa Pobla confirmed yesterday that heavy frosts this past winter had put paid to some of the vulnerable young crop and the harvest hadn't been as high as planned. “There just aren't enough potatoes to meet foreign demand,” Company said.

He explained that from 8th January through to 1st March, there were 30 nights of frost with temperatures plummeting to below 0.5 degrees Centigrade. “It was the coldest winter of the last 40 years.” As a result, there are fears amongst crop growers that this year's low volume yield will mean that key client markets may turn to other countries which are providing stiff competition to Majorca such as Egypt and Israel.

Company was speaking yesterday during a visit to the cooperative being made by regional Finance minister Josep Ignasi Aguiló. Talks during the visit centred around the problems facing the potato export industry such as the extra expense of transport being faced by the Balearics as an island community.

On a more upbeat note, Company gave assurances that the quality of the Sa Pobla potato crop is “outstanding” and that although the quantity didn't meet expectations, the export season isn't yet over and it's too soon to make an all-round assessment of success or failure. This is the fourth consecutive year that there have been difficulties with the Sa Pobla potato harvest. “Last year it was the scare surrounding the pepper harvest, supposedly linked to an ecoli outbreak in Germany which later proved to be false, and then the three previous years were marred by intense cold,” said Company.

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