The Irish Farmers Association reports that retail demand has eased slightly, although colder weather forecasted should improve trade again in Ireland. The food service sector continues to prosper, despite it traditionally being a quieter period. Prices for the fresh sector in Europe are currently described as holding or slightly easier. Export demand is very quiet.
Waitrose & Partners is set to be the first major retailer to sign up to The UK Robust Potato Pledge, which will see the group move away from the use of copper-based fungicides on organic fresh potatoes in order to combat late blight. According to a report by European Supermarket Magazine, the group aims to achieve this by growing and selling only resistant or ‘robust’ organic fresh potatoes by 2026.
Several key UK retailers have pledged to sell disease resistant organic potatoes, boosting sustainability and farm resilience for producers. Organic certification body the Soil Association developed its ‘UK Robust Potato Pledge 2021’ in a bid to help growers move away from potatoes that are susceptible to blight. Signees to the pledge have agreed to favour organic spuds that have been bred to be blight resistant.
The marketing year that ended in June 2021 was unlike any year the potato industry has ever experienced, says Potatoes USA in a news release issued today. “With pandemic restrictions ebbing and flowing from June 2020 to July 2021, sales at foodservice fluctuated while retail purchases remained extremely strong throughout the year,” the industry body says.
The Simple Root, a new global plant-based brand backed by world leading FMCG McCain Foods, will launch in the UK later this year, harnessing the power of the potato to create delicious alternatives to dairy based foods. Launching in the UK with a global roll out across key markets to follow, the range includes versatile cooking sauces such as bechamel, truffle and cheese, and pesto, cream ‘cheeze,’ and a range of dips such as roasted garlic and herb and smoky chipotle.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that retail and consumer demand have improved in the country this week as colder weather has returned and families are back into routines, following the holiday period. The hospitability sector continues to prosper despite the return of schools. European markets continue to regain confidence as economies are almost fully re-opened at this point.
From July 2020 – June 2021, potato sales increased in dollars by 3% but declined slightly in volume by 0.3% compared to the previous July-June marketing year, according to Potatoes USA. Consumers bought 577 million more pounds of potatoes from July 2020 – June 2021 than July 2018 – June 2019. Refrigerated potatoes had the largest increase compared to the same period the previous year of 10.6% increase in dollars and a 5.3% increase in volume.
According to a market report issued by Potatoes USA, potato sales declined in dollars by 10.5% and in volume by 15.5% during April – June of 2021, compared to the same time period in 2020. However, when sales are compared to that same timeframe in 2019, sales increased in value and volume. Consumers bought 53 million more pounds of potatoes, demonstrating demand for potatoes is elevated in grocery stores.
Canadian supermarkets are soon to be stocking Indigenous-owned potato chip brand Tomahawk Chips. In just over five years an Indigenous business owner has taken an upstart potato chip business from humble roots in rural Manitoba, to a distribution deal that will now see his chips sold all across the country.
“We are changing how we go to shows and even how we market ourselves as a whole, because everybody always views us as onions and potatoes, but we do a lot of other items,” said Joe Esta, vice president of Wada Farms Marketing Group in Idaho Falls, ID. Wada Farms will be featuring its chipping potato, a round white potato marketed under the label Big Joe’s Chippers at the PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey.
Potatoes are the top side dish in Belgium. On an average day in 2020, 41% of Belgians ate these (incl. fries). A lot of people were already eating potatoes at home. But, due to COVID-19 and its related measures, that rose in 2020. That’s according to a Flemish Agri and Fisheries Marketing Center (VLAM) press release. In 2020, home consumption of fresh potatoes increased by eight percent. That ended the downward trend in in-home consumption.
Smaller pack sizes and new packaging formats that allow potatoes to be microwaved for convenience, are among the industry trends being embraced by K&K Produce, which is based in Fingal, Co. Dublin. Established by Tommy and Deirdre Kennedy in 1984, K&K Produce is a family affair, with their three children, Thomas, Michael and Lisa, all involved in the business.
Tesco has become the first retailer in Ireland to make its packaging for 1kg new season potatoes fully recyclable while also reducing the amount of paper used in its 2.5kg potato packaging. This step change on packaging will commence on a 12-week trial basis in 100 stores, with plans to roll out the changes to more products if successful. As one of Ireland’s favourite grocery items, this change will have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste.
Potatoes USA’s complimentary online curriculum, “Potato University”, is designed for busy foodservice professionals who want to learn more about how to incorporate all types of potatoes – from fresh, to frozen, to dehydrated—into the menu. These online classes are an excellent resource packed with valuable potato insights, and they can be taken any time at one’s own pace. “Anyone interested in learning more about U.S. potatoes can take this self-paced course,” explains Kendra Keenan, Global Marketing Manager, Foodservice at Potatoes USA.
Strong demand for potatoes and potato products and tight domestic supplies continues to drive increases in imports for the current (July – June) marketing year, according to Potatoes USA. The industry body says for July 2020 – March 2021 total imports are up 9%, led by an 18% increase in chips and a 15% increase in dehydrated potatoes. The two largest categories frozen and fresh potatoes are up 9% and 5% respectively, while seed potato imports are up 14%.
Essex-based artisan crisp producer and potato grower, Fairfields Farm, has expanded its team with the appointment of a new Marketing Manager. Tash Jones, who previously looked after eCommerce, Digital Marketing and PR at Kettle Foods, is the company’s first full-time marketing hire. She will support significant business growth ambitions for both its Fairfields Farm and Ten Acre product lines.
In the latest episode of Potato-cast, a Potatoes USA podcast, Natalia Cervantes, Potatoes USA Conversation Architect, is joined by her guest Kayla Dome, Potatoes USA Global Retail Marketing Manager. Kayla points out that fresh potatoes are still driving larger baskets at retail outlets. She says March 2021 was expected to decline in sales compared to 2020 but specifically online grocery sales saw a 43% increase in online sales compared to 2020, a $9.3 billion dollar sales increase for that online category.
Known by many and loved by all – McCain Foods ‘Smiles’ are back in Australia – this time in mini form. C-AH-UTE! Take your tastebuds back in time with all the nostalgia feels of an Aussie family favourite, 12 years since production ceased. Gone but not forgotten, consumers across the country have inundated McCain Foods with calls, social media requests and even a petition for the return of this iconic snack. A Buzzfeed poll saw an impressive 97 per cent of contributors answering ‘Yes, duh!’ for McCain to bring ‘Smiles’ back. And the pressure has continued to build since.
A family-owned British potato farm in Yorkshire is celebrating 30 years of a successful partnership with Aldi. Located in Dunnington, R.S. Cockerill started supplying potatoes to the supermarket shortly after it opened its first British store back in 1990, making it one of Aldi’s longest supplier relationships. Starting from supplying just one pallet of potatoes with a team of 20, the business now supplies potatoes to over 150 stores across the country and employs over 145 people.
For the first time in years; a significant change is coming to the UK’s fresh produce aisles. A Cambridgeshire potato business is setting out to change how consumers buy fresh potatoes. Chef’s Taste is an established fresh potato range used by chefs in the UK’s premium restaurants. Devised by Linwood Crops, Chef’s Taste presents the perfect potato for each culinary purpose: roasting, mashing, baking, chipping and salads. “The brand ultimately assures the very best taste, all year round,” the company says.
The growth in home cooking during the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more families in Northern Ireland picking up packs of local potatoes for meals. It’s a development that Angus Wilson of Wilson’s Country in Craigavon, Northern Ireland’s largest potato processor, has been working towards for many years. In addition, novel potato products from the Northern Ireland company last week won acclaim for their quality and taste from retailers in Scotland in the shape of a major award for a UK producer in the influential Scottish Retail Food and Drink Awards.
The first Peruvian vodka made from Andean native potatoes was awarded its sixth international gold medal at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, one of the most important competitions in the United States, the State-run Innovate Peru (Innovate Yourself, Peru) Program reports. It says that Vodka 14 Inkas obtained this distinction for the third consecutive year – a celebration of the intensive research and development work done to achieve a high-quality product that meets international standards.
HyFun, which produces and exports frozen potato products, will be investing Rs 300 crore (approx US$40 million) for its intended expansion in India and will also move into the domestic retail sector. The company will expand the manufacturing capacity of its potato processing plant in Mehsana, Gujarat to over 2.5 times by 2022.
Global packaging and paper manufacturer Mondi has partnered with Polish compostable packaging producer SILBO to develop paper-based, eco-friendly packaging for potatoes. Created for Irish farm potato business Meade Farm Group, the packaging has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The solution will enable Meade to replace hard-to-recycle plastic with paper in line with its sustainability targets.
‘Foods that go farther’: Farther Farms closing the French fry gap, revolutionizing food processing, transportation, storage
Today, the French fry. Tomorrow, the global food supply chain. Farther Farms is a high-growth food technology start-up, based in Rochester, NY, working to solve one of society’s greatest challenges: how to make food go farther. The company began by creating the world’s first commercially-available shelf-stable, fresh-cut style French fry that’s never-frozen and ready-to-cook. The French fries have a 90-day shelf life at room temperature – no artificial preservatives added, and no freezing or refrigeration required.
Potatoes USA reports that potato sales for Q3 (January – March 2021) of Marketing Year 2021 have caught up to the changed buying habits that the pandemic brought about. March 2020 was an unprecedented time for potato sales in grocery stores as panic buying began a yearlong streak of record-high sales in dollars and volume. It is no surprise that sales in March of 2021 could not keep up with the buying patterns that occurred in that crazy month a year ago.