The price of vegetables in Czech shops has seen a steep growth. Potatoes – once the cheapest of commodities –are now more expensive than exotic fruits. And, since last year’s poor harvest was a pan-European problem, imports from other countries are not helping to bring down the exorbitant prices.
Home-grown potatoes for 30 crowns per kilo is making many consumers roll their eyes in disbelief. Once the cheapest of commodities and a staple in the Czech kitchen, potatoes are now more expensive than oranges, lemons or bananas. And a look at the price of other vegetables is no better. While the price of potatoes has gone up by 67 percent year-on-year the price of other vegetables is up by around 80 percent, with parsley and onions seeing the fastest growth.
The price growth is the result of last year’s hot and dry summer and the subsequent poor harvest combined with small reserves. According to Milan Chlan from the Potato Growers Association, Czech farmers harvested 100 thousand tons less potatoes last year than they did in 2017. Because farmers elsewhere in Europe suffered similar problems it was not possible to import cheaper potatoes from abroad. In fact potatoes imported from Egypt hit 40 crowns per kilo.
The only comfort for disgruntled shoppers is that the price of new imported potatoes which traditionally appear on the market in April should not be higher than that from the old harvest.
The first imports are expected in April from Spain, Greece, Italy and Israel. Potatoes from the new Czech harvest will only appear in late May. In the course of the summer, the price of potatoes should gradually drop to around ten crowns per kilo.
Home production of potatoes traditionally only covers around 80 percent of overall consumption, and Czech farmers only grow around 35 percent of the other vegetables consumed. The bulk of imported vegetables comes from The Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Germany and Italy.