The European potato sector will face a significant challenge in the 2020/2021 storage season.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report about Chlorpropham (CIPC). As a result, the European Union (EU) has decided to prohibit the use of this substance. This means that it may no longer be used as, among other things, a potato sprout inhibitor.
The ban is valid in all EU member countries. The last authorised date of use, however, differs from country to country. For example, in the Netherlands, it was 8 October. The cutoff date for Belgium is 30 June 2020, and it may still be used in France until 8 August.
“This restriction is going to have consequences,” says Jan Gottschall. He is the Dutch Potato Organisation's (NAO) policy specialist. NAO members include potato traders, exports, and sorting and packaging companies. Jan foresees significant problems arising for NAO members when it comes to exporting consumption potatoes to distant countries. He estimates about 200,00 tons of potatoes are exported to third-party countries from the Netherlands. Of this volume, around 125,000 tons goes to Africa. Sprouting inhibition plays a significant role when it comes to these destinations.
“Buyers do not want their consumption potatoes to have any sprouts.” The sorting, packaging, and transportation of potatoes to these faraway destinations can, however, take between 14 days and as long as a month. These destination countries include the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and countries in Asia.
Jan says that during this long period, sprouting does occur when the potatoes are not stored in a controlled environment, and there is no access to CIPC. Jan also expects the Chlorpropham ban to become an issue for small-scale packers. The sorting, packing, and transport process as a whole for sales in the Netherlands or the European Union is much shorter. Jan, therefore, predicts sprouting will be less likely.