The export to the UK and Scandinavia of Lady Christl new potatoes started on Sunday. The centre of this export in Mallorca is of course Sa Pobla, where exporters still have some concerns because of Brexit uncertainties. Joan Mateu, president of Mateu Export, says that "the flexibility has ended, and we must see how the UK will specify requirements from now on". The UK represents 25% of Sa Pobla's potato export market; "it would be a difficult one to replace".
A further factor is phytosanitary control. The Balearics is the only potato-producing area of Spain that is free of Epitrix, the beetle that is found in many potato varieties. Farmers in the Balearics, Mateu notes, are not obliged to wash potatoes prior to export. "But there is a challenge with maintaining good phytosanitary control. For this, the regional agriculture ministry must have sufficient means."
This year's export is expected to be "normal". The weather can still cause disruption because of, for example, late frosts. The only negative element thus far has been the high wind in February. Overall, though, the quality is good and the starting date for export is as it has generally been for some decades.
When the first exports were made, back in 1924, the harvest was in May. Joan Mateu explains that market demand and climate change have brought this forward more and more. The UK is the longest-established market. Others, apart from Scandinavia, include Germany, the Netherlands and some eastern European countries.