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Latest potato news from around the World

Zimbawean government embarks on potato seed production to curb imports

According to a report published by The Herald, the government in Zimbabwe, in cooperation with Kutsaga Research Station in the country has embarked on a potato seed multiplication programme – from mini-tuber to commercial seed potato. This programme was launched in response to a critical shortage of seed potatoes which resulted in the country importing 60 percent of its total requirement, mostly from South Africa.

Branston raises money for children’s hospice

British potato supplier Branston is now halfway through a challenge to virtually travel around the world in 80 days to raise money for its charity of the year – Children’s Hospice South West. County Gazette reporter Jess Chaffey writes that more than 100 employees are taking part across Branston’s three sites to travel 24,901 miles, by walking, running and cycling. James Truscott, managing director at Branston, said: “We’re really proud of all the team for getting involved and helping us to achieve our goal for our chosen charity.

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Project to research the viability of True Potato Seed in Canada’s far North

A pilot project that could improve food security in Canada’s North got the green light Monday, according to a report by CBC News. Jackie Milne, president of the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, received $50,000 in funding from the government of the Northwest Territories to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists to identify the best potato seeds to produce potatoes in the North.

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COVID-19 response: McCain Foods USA partners with No Kid Hungry to help eliminate childhood hunger

Earlier this week, McCain Foods USA announced its partnership with No Kid Hungry to help ensure children across America have access to healthy meals amid coronavirus-related school closures and beyond. McCain Foods USA says in a press release the partnership was launched by donating $75,000 which will be directed to No Kid Hungry’s coronavirus response and recovery efforts that will help provide children with the most important school supply they can have: food.

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Podcast: NPC’s CEO reacts to USDA’s COVID-19 relief announcement

On Friday, Sept. 18, the National Potato Council welcomed the announcement that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program — CFAP 2 — which will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in from DC to react to the breaking news and to thank USDA for taking this additional step toward relief for the members of the potato industry who have experienced significant economic hardships in 2020.

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Cavendish Farms opens new $12.5 million Research Centre on Canada’s Prince Edward Island

Cavendish Farms’ new Research Centre in New Annan, Prince Edward Island officially opened today with a ribbon cutting with Hon. Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island, and company officials. The $12.5 million facility, which is fully funded by Cavendish Farms, is an investment in the sustainability of PEI’s all-important potato industry. “This is another step to help support potato growers and the potato industry on the Island,” said Robert K. Irving, President of Cavendish Farms. “Our goal is to help address the specific challenges faced by growers here on Prince Edward Island.”

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Tong announces record sales of next generation barrel washer

Tong Engineering has announced record sales of the company’s next generation stainless steel Barrel Washer throughout 2020. Sales of the company’s advanced Barrel Washers have been boosted in the UK and export markets by an increase in orders for the new, advanced design which was launched early last year, according to Edward Tong, Managing Director at Tong Engineering. Built with efficiency, reliability, and ease of maintenance in mind, Tong’s proven barrel washer design has been enhanced with several advanced features as standard including a new direct-drive, inverter-controlled barrel drive shaft with heavy duty coupling.

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Marketing success: ‘Bud the Spud’ content seen over 5M times by British consumers

Between May and July this year AHDB’s marketing team ran a successful campaign which aimed to keep potatoes relevant to consumers while educating them about their versatility, ease of use and health benefits, the organization says in a recent news article. In response to the market dynamics created by COVID-19, AHDB says there was a need to create additional demand in retail and drive volume in sales to attempt to make up for some of the losses through foodservice. Bud the Spud’ was part of a marketing campaign (More Than a Bit on the Side) with proven positive results.

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Pandemic relief: NPC welcomes USDA’s expanded Coronavirus Financial Assistance Program

On Friday, the National Potato Council welcomed an announcement by President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue on Sept. 17 that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Signup for CFAP 2 will begin Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 11, 2020.

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PepsiCo pushes to empower women in agriculture with $20m USAID partnership

The Lay’s and Doritos maker has signed a $20m partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to create a gender-inclusive supply chain and help build a more sustainable food system. The five-year partnership falls under the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP) established by the US White House last year, which seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 by scaling private-public partnerships. PepsiCo and USAID will each invest an initial $5m to jumpstart the programme to support women-owned small- and medium-enterprises.

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The Roundup debacle: Bayer settles thousands more law suits

Bayer AG settled thousands more U.S. lawsuits over its Roundup weed killer after criticism that the company was failing to uphold an $11 billion deal it announced in June to resolve the massive litigation, writes Joel Rosenblatt in an article published by Bloomberg. The latest settlements resolve about 15,000 U.S. lawsuits, according to lawyers familiar with the deals. Added to the approximately 32,000 settlements previously disclosed by Ken Feinberg, the mediator overseeing the process, Bayer has resolved at least 47,000 of the suits.

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COVID-19 impact: Idaho’s 2020 potato crop prognosis

The outlook for the Idaho potato season was very promising at the beginning of the year. Then, in the middle of March, with the impact of the Corona virus becoming aparant here in the US and globally, everything changed. “It was fantastic,” says Idaho potato grower Randy Hardy. “Until the virus hit, I was telling people I’ve been farming for 48 years waiting for a year like this, because it was kind of like a perfect storm, you know? It looked like it was going to be a good marketing year…” But then the pandemic put an end to all of this. Bill Schaefer in Idaho produced a video in which the owners and managers of four prominent Idaho potato operations discuss the economic impact of Covid-19.

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PepsiCo starts construction of a new savory snack processing plant in Russia

PepsiCo Russia has laid the foundation stone for a new processing plant for the production of savory snacks in the Industrial and Logistics Park of the Novosibirsk Region, according to a recent press release issued by PepsiCo Russia. The plant in Novosibirsk will become PepsiCo’s third plant to produce salty snacks in Russia. In total, there are more than 20 PepsiCo subsidiaries in Russia. The company has over time invested over US$10 billion in Russia. PepsiCo will also launch an agricultural program in the region aimed at providing the new plant with local potatoes.

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Romain Cools, Belgapom: ‘This could well become the toughest NW European potato season in 50 years’

Last week, the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) association announced their harvest estimate for the 2020/2021 season. They reckon potato yields will be between 27 and 27,3 million tons. That’s for the five most important potato-growing countries in North-western Europe. “These results correspond with the information we got from various parties,” Romain Cools of Belgapom, in Belgium told Sharon de Ridder of AGF Netherlands . “According to some, this could become a disastrous year. But, the yields are actually surprisingly higher than many estimated.”

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Ukraine plans to ban potato imports from Russia

According to information published by the UNIAN Information Agency, the Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture, Taras Vysotskyi, says the ministry plans to ban imports of potatoes from Russia as a tool to support Ukrainian potato growers. According to UNIAN, Ukraine in 2019 increased potato imports, mainly from Russia, by 43 times, to a record high 250,000 tonnes.

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Improved weather at the end of summer saves Iceland’s potato crop

Kristján Már Unnarsson writes in a news story published by Visir that potato farmers in Iceland’s Þykkvabær are thankful for the warmth and rain at the end of summer. They are now heading for an acceptable harvest after the cold season well into the summer. This became clear during a live broadcast on Stöðvar 2’s news in the potato field in Rangárvallasýsla where they talked to potato farmer Sigurbjart Pálsson. The outlook for potatoes in Þykkvabær was not good here until after the summer.

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Robbie Davis to step down as CEO Potatoes South Australia Inc

Following eight years at the helm of Potatoes South Australia, Robbie Davis will be stepping down from her role of Chief Executive at the end of 2020. The change comes as the Association moves into new territory with a greater emphasis on Brand Australia and growing national significance of the world’s 3rd largest food crop to the Australian horticulture industry. Despite this inevitable and exciting new challenge, Robbie believes it is the right time to say farewell to the representative body she has built with the help of a band of dedicated stakeholders from all sectors.

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AHDB: Volume gains in retail offset out-of-home losses for potatoes in Britain

Potato consumption has remained resilient in Britain over the past six months, despite closures in the foodservice market, according to figures released by AHDB. Strong retail sales led to an overall 12% volume increase for potatoes in the six months to 9 August, according to AHDB estimates based on Kantar data. Over the 24 weeks ending (w/e) 9 August, retail sales volumes of potatoes and potato products rose well ahead of the total food and non-alcoholic drink uplift. The return of big fast food brands in June helped lift takeaway volumes of potatoes.

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Update and minor facelift for the Dewulf R3060 harvester series

Dewulf, full-liner in machines for the cultivation of potatoes and root crops, have fitted their renowned R3060 series sieving harvesters with several updates. Every new R3060 is now equipped with a brand new, more environmentally friendly Scania Stage V engine. To further optimise the engine performance, the engine compartment also got a new grille for improved heat management. In the cabin, the driver’s comfort has also been further improved, thanks to new HD monitors and cameras.

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IFA: Growers behind schedule in Ireland; EU potato area higher in 2020

The Irish Federation of Agriculture (IFA) reports in its weekly market update report that liftings continue at pace this week across Ireland as weather conditions have improved. The IFA says conditions are still challenging in parts of the country and growers are behind schedule at this stage. According to the IFA, the first EU 27 production estimate puts the total crop at 54.8mt’s which is about 3.7mt’s higher than last year. The total planted area at 1.655 million ha’s is about 26,000 ha’s higher than last year.

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GIC packaging company expands; director celebrates 21 years’ service

The director of GIC Ltd in the UK has celebrated 21 years’ service by finalising a five-figure expansion project that will increase his company’s production facility by 25%. GIC works extensively with potato and fresh produce packers. Andy Beal joined GIC in Gainsborough at the end of August 1999, becoming the packaging machinery manufacturer’s managing director following a management buyout in 2007. This month, Andy signed off on the building of a new mezzanine floor at GIC’s factory, which will add 100 square metres to the company’s production area.

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Brexit woes: Why a ‘no deal’ could bring potato trade with EU to a halt

Potato seed and ware exports from the UK could be interrupted in a Brexit no deal scenario and there are signs that seed potato growers are looking to export potatoes before the transition period ends on December 31, writes Marianne Curtis in an article published by Farmers Guardian. Patrick Hughes, AHDB head of export trade development – potatoes, explains: “At the moment we don’t have third country equivalence and if there is no deal, it will not be in the offing straightaway. This would stop all exports of potatoes to the EU – both seed and ware.”

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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