Due to the pressure on European seed potato stocks this year, growers in Spain and Portugal are hopeful for a long-term solution to allow the sale of Scottish potato seed in the European Union.

The trade was abruptly halted on January 1, 2021, following Brexit, when the United Kingdom was declared a third country. Although production methods and standards remained unchanged, the import of plants, seeds, and other plant propagating materials with a high phytosanitary risk was automatically banned.

The UK continues to produce seed potatoes using the same methods as before Brexit. Scotland has always been recognized for producing high-quality seed potatoes with excellent plant health, thanks to its weather conditions, which help reduce aphid attacks and the spread of viruses. Scotland exclusively produces base seeds (categories S and SE) that are free from many diseases present on the European continent. This quality and health distinction made Scottish seed potatoes highly valued.

In recent years, growers have relied on seed potatoes from continental Europe. However, there is still hope for resuming the use of Scottish seed, especially after estimates indicated a 20% decrease in the supply of European seed potatoes this year.

Discussions are ongoing with various entities to explore the possibility of importing Scottish potatoes again. The recent seed shortages have highlighted the necessity of these imports. Europatat, representing the European potato sector companies and associations to the European Union, is addressing this issue by creating a dedicated working group.

The shortage of Scottish seed potatoes has particularly impacted Spanish seed multiplier companies, which have faced increased problems with viruses since the ban on certain imports and phytosanitary products. The rise in aphids, which are vectors for these viruses, combined with weather conditions, has exacerbated these challenges.