Russia's decision to impose a temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian potatoes is not expected to have a major impact on the latter's potato industry, despite the high-profile nature of such a development set against the background of on-going geo-political tensions in the region.
Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian federal veterinary and phytosanitary control agency, announced on 5 June that it had opted to suspend imports from 16 June following an apparent breach of detection levels for a pest called golden or yellow potato cyst nematode.
But analysts at Fruit-Inform said they believed a temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian potatoes would have no impact on the potato industry in Ukraine, arguing that Ukraine exports no more than 8,000 tonnes of potatoes to the Russian Federation, describing that as "a miserly volume" compared with 2.8m tonnes consumed on the Ukrainian market itself.
"Potatoes are a minor category in Ukraine's fruit and vegetable exports," commented Tetiana Getman, head of Fruit-Inform.
"The Russian market is interesting for Ukrainian growers of early potatoes. Exports slightly restrain a price fall in summer during the seasons with large domestic production. However, the ban will have no impact on prices of middle-season and late potatoes as exports usually account for the share of less than 1 per cent in the sales structure of those categories."
Sergey Rybalko, vice-president of the Ukrainian Association of Potato Producers, echoed Getman's views in a statement published on the Fruit-Inform website.
"Closure of the Russian market may have a slight impact on prices of early potatoes but will not affect the Ukrainian market for late potatoes," he said.
"For the present, the southern European countries are the most interesting export markets for Ukrainian potatoes as the domestic production is not high there, and those countries are in better logistics position than Belarus or Poland."