News April 2020

Potato storage specialist comments on the future of potato storage research in the UK

The following letter was sent to Potato News Today by potato storage specialist in the UK, Ray Andrews, and we published it as such. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country.

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Potato late blight in Europe

Didier Andrivon from INRA delves into the disease that once killed 1.5 million individuals in Ireland: Potato late blight, also known as Phytophthora Infestans It would be easy to think that a disease peaking over one hundred years ago is no longer a problem, but potato late blight continues to evolve and emerge in new places – similarly to the insidious reach of[Read More…]

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Prepare for the ‘ultimate gaslighting’

Gaslighting, if you don’t know the word, is defined as ‘manipulation into doubting your own sanity’; as in, Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her. Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. (That never happened. What are you talking about?) Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms: a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy.

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Canada’s meat-and-potato problem: Coronavirus pandemic hits the food supply chain

Canada’s potato industry joins a growing number of food sectors that finds itself in crisis, a crisis sparked by the near elimination of demand for french fries. Global News has learned that the Canadian Potato Council, which represents 1,000 potato growers across the country, sent a letter Thursday to Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau requesting “urgent required interventions” that the council says are vital to protect the potato industry and food security in Canada.

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Coronavirus pandemic leads to Idaho potato market distress

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a once strong potato market to make an abrupt about-face, leading some Idaho growers to dump surplus spuds from storage cellars or to feed them to cattle. Just a few weeks ago, Idaho potato farmers were enjoying some of their best fresh prices in recent memory and anticipated supplies would run short in the coming summer. The combination of lower spud yields and widespread frost damage during the 2019 harvest had contributed to a smaller statewide crop than normal, the Post Register reported Saturday.

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Packer Interview – Houston Food Bank reports on the ‘Buy Fresh’ program

The Packer’s Tom Karst visited April 24 with Sabrina Bosiacki, agriculture industry manager for the Houston Food Bank, about the promise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Buy Fresh Program. “The amount of need that we’re seeing right now is unprecedented,” Bosiacki said. “Just two days ago (April 22), we distributed 1.3 million pounds of food in a single day, which far surpasses our old record that we had attained post-hurricane Harvey; so we’ve never seen anything like this before since we became a food bank in the 80s.”

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Organic farmers pivot from selling to restaurants to homes amid coronavirus

New York’s farmers who can no longer sell crops to Big Apple restaurants are turning to a new business model: Boxing up produce for the growing hordes of home cooks, Jennifer Gould Keil reports in New York Post. Zaid Kurdieh, an organic farmer in Norwich, NY, used to rely on sales to top chefs and restaurateurs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Thomas Keller and Danny Meyer for 60 percent of his revenues. But with Gotham’s dining scene shuttered, Kurdieh has pivoted from packing up “hundreds of pounds” of produce for restaurateurs to curating 12- to 24-pound food boxes for home chefs.

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HZPC invests in connections with growers

Great news for HZPC’s seed potato growers in the European Union: HZPC Holding is starting its “Connecting Growers” programme this year, which will reporting in handing out share certificates, according to the company. HZPC says it wants to remain an organisation run for and by growers. To this end, it is investing in connections with its growers.

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BlightCast now live and running for the 2020 potato season in the UK

Syngenta’s BlightCast tool is now live and running for the 2020 season, to give British potato growers and agronomists a clear picture of impending blight pressure and risks – in time to make active application decisions. “BlightCast showed the first Hutton Criteria hits for the site were on the 16th August, but no Smith Periods were triggered until 24th August; in that time the visual assessment of blight inoculated trials went from virtually nothing detectable to widespread infection,” says Syngenta potato specialist, Rob Farrow.

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Plummeting french fry sales has Canadian potato industry re-evaluating

French fry sales are down across North America as tens of thousands of restaurants have closed during COVID-19, which means the potato industry has to adapt quickly. Companies that turn potatoes into french fries, wedges and hash browns are slowing down production, because there isn’t enough space to store all the frozen product, reports Alexis Kienlen in Alberta Farmer. While french fry sales have stagnated, potato chip sales are up. United Potato Growers of Canada is trying to figure out the amount of potatoes in storage so it can forecast how much production will be needed this coming year.

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Potatoes USA: ‘Potatoes show largest sales increase of all vegetables sold at retail in March’

Retail purchases of all potato products were 41 percent higher in March 2020 compared to the same time frame last year, according to figures released by industry marketing body, Potatoes USA. “Consumers give potatoes high marks for being a satisfying food that everyone enjoys and for being a great value,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Fresh potatoes have experienced a 42 percent volume increase since the beginning of March and a 67 percent year-over-year dollar sales increase as of the end of the first week of April.

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As Covid-19 threatens global food security, fresh potatoes are back on tables

COVID-19 is driving demand for fresh potatoes in supermarkets and grocery stores across the globe as people stock up on inexpensive food. Fresh potato has become a favorite during the lockdown, along with rice, wheat flour, bread and pasta, the International Potato Center (CIP) says in a recently published report. The world should be prepared to guarantee availability of food at affordable prices over the next 12?18 months, or even longer, to effectively overcome the effects of the pandemic. Potato has a key role to play in ensuring global food security.

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How ethylene can help control sprouting in potato stores

Ethylene can provide potato producers with a viable sprout-control solution in a range of situations, with one large potato processing company already using an ethylene delivery system in all of its medium- to long-term stores. Adam Clarke of Farmers Weekly in the UK reports.

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Interview with Chris Claridge, CEO of Potatoes New Zealand

Passionate about horticulture and adding value to New Zealand’s primary produce, Chris Claridge founded Claridges Organics, one of New Zealand’s first organic food exporting businesses. In a recent interview with Sarah Perriam, Chris reflects on how the potato industry in New Zealand has suffered from the interruptions to the hospitality sector. He also discusses the NZ potato industry’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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Indian airline IndiGo operated its first international cargo-on-seats flight

Indian airline IndiGo has successfully operated the country’s first cargo-on-seats flight, sending fresh food from India to fill some supermarket shelves in the UAE. The flight flew from Kochi to Abu Dhabi over the weekend, transporting fruit, vegetables and other supplies to supermarkets in the UAE, particularly stores that “cater for the large Indian expat community” in the Emirates, according to IndiGo’s CCO Willy Boulter.

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Side Delights Gourmet Petite Potatoes receives US packaging design award

Side Delights® announced its third packaging design award in five years. Graphic Design USA announced its 57th American Packaging Design Awards online today, including The Side Delights® Gourmet Petite fresh potato package. The design was created to include a clean, elegant design that evokes the feeling of a white tablecloth restaurant.

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PlanetPotato goes live: New World Potato Markets podcast celebrates the world’s favourite tuber

A new podcast called PlanetPotato from the team that brings you World Potato Markets has gone live. “For many the potato is a comfort food – and comfort is something we all need now, which is why the time seemed right to launch our new podcast,” said World Potato Market’s Cedric Porter. “PlanetPotato is not primarily aimed at potato experts but for people all round the world who love the potato and want to know more about it,” said Cedric.

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COVID-19 has taken Idaho and U.S. potato industry ‘on a roller-coaster ride’

Total acres of Idaho’s iconic potato crop could decrease significantly this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Although there was a rush on potatoes at grocery stores early on, that has abated somewhat and has not been enough to make up for a major decrease in sales of potatoes and potato products through foodservice channels, according to industry leaders. Some french fry processors in Idaho have cut contracted acreage by 10-20 percent this year, according to North American Potato Market News Publisher, Bruce Huffaker.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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