TRADE AND MARKET I NG Table potatoes dominate the Chilean market It’s striking that the colour red predominates on the crowded Mercada Vega. a large shelf for potatoes. Besides unpackaged potatoes as found on the various local mercadas, Jumbo also offers beautifully-packaged potatoes. What’s immediately noticeable at the head of the shelf, however, are the papas nativas. This is a collection of original varieties grown on the potato island of Chiloé. Research has shown that our European potato varieties have a strong similarity with the local varieties on this southern Chilean island. Not surprising in itself. The Spaniards also conquered Chile after Peru. In regard to the climate, however, Chiloé much more resembles the northern European climate than Peru, in terms of daylight length and rainfall. In order to familiarise consumers with these original varieties, Jumbo offers ten or so different varieties in beautifully-presented jute bags and a large advertising board with the characteristics of the various special potatoes. A Chilean lady, who takes a few beautiful, purple potatoes out of one of the bags, tells us that she’s mainly interested in the special taste of the product. The fact that the potatoes that cost 2290 pesos per kilogram are twice as expensive as the red-skinned unpackaged ones offered by Jumbo, doesn’t bother her. ‘These potatoes are also a bit smaller and I don’t need more, because with only a few potatoes you quickly have a really special meal’, she tells us enthusiastically. Anyway, the potatoes in Jumbo are more expensive than at the market or on the many small vegetable stalls that Santiago has. The potatoes are available at the local markets at a price of around 500 pesos and, in large quantities, the price even drops to 350 pesos per kilogram, but this is still 50 eurocents per kilogram. In the supermarket, unpackaged potatoes are sold at 1139 pesos per kilogram. That’s almost 2 euros per kilogram. The potatoes in small packaging are slightly cheaper. Storage makes the difference Looking at the potato situation in Chile, the total production is approximately 1.2 million tons. Of this, 85 percent goes to the table potato market, 10 percent to the crisps industry and 5 percent to the cultivation of seed potatoes. One of the growers who wants to benefit from the developing table potato market is Ottmar Opitz Schwenke of the Huertos del Ranco company in Lago Ranco. His farm is situated in the south of Chile, more than 1,000 kilometres from Santiago. The area in which Opitz grows is very similar to Europe in terms of climate. The hilly surroundings where volcanoes and mountain ranges fill the horizon are characterised by green meadows interspersed with arable crops such as corn, cereal and, of course, potatoes. The growing season in southern Chile runs from October to March. The climate in the south is mild and the north, closer to the equator, is dry and warm. In the vicinity of the northern town of La Serena, cultivation begins as early as August. From this area, fresh potatoes are marketed continuously from November to January. The supply then shifts to the growing areas in central Chile. The potatoes then arrive from farms around places such as Talea and Los Angeles. From these areas, the potaIn the local Jumbo in Santiago de Chile, the papas nativas at the head of the shelf immediately catch the eye. 14 Potato World 2018 • number 1 Pagina 13

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