Purchasing a kilogram of potatoes in Tenerife has rapidly escalated into an unaffordable luxury for numerous families. On Monday, Mercatenerife, a prominent marketplace on the island, disclosed the latest pricing trends for fruits and vegetables available in local retail outlets. The report revealed a staggering 106% surge in the price of potatoes in just one week.
As of now, consumers are confronted with a price tag of €4.50 per kilogram for potatoes, which is a stark contrast to the €1.70 charged just seven days earlier. Adding to the market’s oddities, the cost of a kilogram of avocados remains static at €14 within the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The phenomenon has taken the social media landscape by storm. Users on platforms like Twitter are in disbelief, with comments like “Is it even worth buying anymore?” echoing across Críticos Tenerife’s Twitter feed. The sentiment is aptly summarised by another Twitter user’s succinct remark: “Madre mía.”
This dramatic price inflation hasn’t escaped the attention of various stakeholders in Canary Islands society, ranging from business entities and regional organisations representing the agricultural sector, to governmental bodies, as well as personalities from the restaurant industry, the arts, and even social media influencers.
An In-Depth Look at Six Key Factors Behind the Potato Crisis in Tenerife, Canary Islands
The Underlying Cause for Potato Shortage
The Government of Spain has imposed a ban on potato imports from the United Kingdom. This decision was influenced by the emergence of the Colorado potato beetle, a pernicious pest found in British potato farms.
The Shift from Potato Exporter to Importer
Miguel López, who serves as the Secretary of the Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos (COAG) in Tenerife, explained that the Canary Islands were once net exporters of potatoes. However, changes in the economic landscape since the 1980s have made the islands reliant on imported seed supplies, particularly from certain authorised countries.
Understanding the Colorado Potato Beetle
Identified by the Garden Tech website as one of the most devastating pests to vegetable cultivation, the Colorado potato beetle not only has a penchant for potato plants but also affects other Solanaceae family members like tomatoes, aubergines, and peppers.
Implications for Potato Cultivation
The ban on potato imports is essentially a precautionary step to prevent the Colorado potato beetle from infiltrating and ravaging agricultural productions in the Canary Islands. Juan Luis Pulido, the spokesperson for the Las Palmas Association of Seed and Crop Potato Distributors (Adipa), emphasised the risks of inadequate inspections in this context.
Crisis Management Measures
The regional government has given assurances that there will be no potato shortage. Plans are underway for market “self-regulation,” aiming to substitute British potatoes with imports from alternative sources like Israel, Cyprus, Egypt, Libya, and Malta.
Mercadona’s Approach to Crisis Alleviation
In a proactive measure to counteract the crisis, Juan Roig’s Mercadona supermarkets have implemented temporary sales restrictions. As exposed by a ‘tiktoker’ named @special_six, notices have been placed at the entrances of Mercadona outlets in the Canary Islands, informing customers that their purchases are limited to one 3-kilogram mesh of potatoes, or 2 kilos in the case of potatoes specifically meant for crumpling.