Australian potato glut is one of the biggest in history

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th November 2011

Potato growers across Australia are threatening to plough surplus potatoes back into the ground or leave them to rot in what is reported to be one of the biggest potato gluts in Australian history.

Australian potato grower and Chairman of the Australian Potato Industry Advisory Committee, David Nix, has seen double the tonnage of potatoes on his farm in Atherton, Queensland, compared to last year.

Mr Nix told Australian Food News today, “This year has brought a wave of excess potatoes across the whole of Australia. I have never seen a crop like this before. I’ve heard reports from South Australian growers who have had five to six tonnes per acre above their average crop. They dumped the excess potatoes on the market very cheaply just to get rid of them.”

Mr Nix said that the glut is due to cold and dry weather which allowed growers more control of irrigation. The dry weather also prevents the onset of fungal diseases in potato crops.

“We have already had to leave potatoes in the paddock – my prediction is that we will have to waste thousands of tonnes of potatoes this year. We have no factories, processing plants here or any way of making use of the excess potatoes. If we could process them into potato powder then maybe they could be taken anywhere in the world but they’re going to be left where they are.”

Mr Nix also said the potato glut will continue to affect potato prices across Australia, which have fallen in recent weeks.

When approached today by Australian Food News, the Australian Government’s international trade program, AusAID responded with a fairly dismissive tone.

A spokesperson for AusAID said, “The Australian aid program’s key partner in the fight against world hunger is the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the largest global provider of food aid. The Australian Government does not provide direct food aid – it does so through the WFP.”