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German potato prices set to spike due to drought

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German potato prices set to spike due to drought
A potato in a harvested field in Duisburg on August 1st. Photo: DPA
11:34 CEST+02:00
Two summers in a row of drought are causing Germany’s potato supply to dwindle - and prices to rise.

Farmers throughout Germany, and especially in the country’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, are desperately hoping for rain in August.

“If it continues to stay hot and dry, the problem will become very big,” said Horst-Peter Karos, the head of the Association of Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Preparation (BOGK) regarding the country’s staple crop.  

He added that potato prices in North Rhine-Westphalia have already risen by around a third compared with the previous year.

Germany is in the midst of its harvest season, which stretches from March through October each year. 

Historically low yield

Last year, Germany’s harvest was already historically low, with 8.7 million tonnes of potatoes - the smallest yield in 28 years. 

The impact trickled down to consumers. In November 2018, supermarket shoppers had to pay around 84 cents per kg for potatoes in small packages, whereas the price per kg the year before was 55 cents.

SEE ALSO: Drought causes potato prices to rise by more than half - and they have more flaws

The exact average prices of potatoes Germany-wide are not yet known and dependent on what the harvest in the final stretch of summer brings.

A potato after a harvest in Duisburg, North-Rhine Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Currently, the groundwater level had fallen significantly due to two summers’ worth of droughts.

The heatwaves of recent weeks in July and August has only made the conditions worse, according to Karos, especially since potatoes cannot grow at extreme temperatures.

Relief on the horizon?

The impact will also be felt by the processing industry this fall, said Karos, as products such crisps and chips could become more expensive.

Last year, a few local establishments with potato products raised their prices to reflect the increase. 

For the upcoming weekend, however, stormy weather could bring relief to farmers. In North Rhine-Westphalia, Saturday and Sunday will see stormy weather, with 15 to 25 liters of rain per square metre expected to fall. 

Hail and strong gusts of wind up to 70 km per area are also expected in the area.  

Vocabulary

Potato - (die) Kartoffel; (der) Erdapfel (mostly in south Germany and Austria)

Harvest losses - (die) Ernteeinbußen

Harvest - (die) Ernte 

Drought - (die) Dürre

Precipitation - (der) Niederschlag

Ground water level - (der) Grundwasserpegel

Fields - (die) Äcker 

Food processing industry - (die) Lebensmittelverarbeitungsindustrie 

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

 
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