News July 2020

Global potato statistics: An overview

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) maintains a databasis on many different crops, named FAOSTAT. It provides a powerful search facility that users can employ and manipulate to obtain data about a chosen crop. I extracted data for the potato crop related to “production” and “area harvested”, and present the results in the tables below (for 130 countries where potatoes are cultivated). The latest FAOSTAT data available is for 2018.

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McCain supports Ronald McDonald House Charities Atlantic to help families with sick children

In a Twitter tweet today, the Ronald McDonald House Charities says: “We are truly grateful for the support of McCain, an @RMHCCanada National Partner, and an incredible supporter of our mission to help keep families with a sick or injured child together and near the medical care their child needs. When families learn their child is sick and must be hospitalized, life as they know it changes overnight. Families embark on what is an often unexpected and difficult journey full of uncertainty, worry, fear and hope RMHC says on its website.

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Jersey potato season survives twin threats of weather and Covid

A leading exporter of Jersey Royals and one of the Island’s major growers have spoken of their pride in keeping the potato industry going through a difficult 2020 season. Adverse weather and the Covid-19 pandemic have both contributed to a challenging year for farmers in Jersey. Christine Hellio, from Manor Farm in St Ouen, said the Island had responded well after facing the initial crisis presented by Coronavirus in March.

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Oregon potato processor rebounds from COVID-19

A local potato processing plant that reported several COVID-19 cases to Oregon Health Authority is back in full operation, with all employees recovered and back on the job. Wong Potatoes reported five cases among employees of the business on April 20, one of the first locations in the state to have multiple cases. Owner Dan Chin temporarily closed the operation, which employs 40 people, to contain the spread of the virus. But now three months later, the plant is currently open and operating, despite a difficult water year.

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Dutch ag sector has ‘lowest environmental footprint’ in the world

The Dutch agricultural sector is said to have, relatively speaking, the lowest environmental impact of all countries in the world. That is what ABN Amro says. According to the bank, the joint ‘footprint of CO2, energy, pesticides and antibiotics in the Netherlands is the smallest per kilo of agricultural product.’ “We produce more per hectare of land here than any other country,” says Jan de Ruyter, agricultural sector banker at ABN Amro.

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Australia’s potato peril: Industry highlights concern about EU fries dumping threat

The potato industry in Australia is now in a state of ‘high alert’ for any potential French fries dumping activity from the EU, highlighting its chief concerns as price plummeting and farmer welfare after a tough season. The alert was raised after the European Union (EU) recently passed an EUR650mn (US$741.1/A$1.1.mn) COVID-19 government assistance scheme that would enable EU firms to export their processed potatoes cheaply Down Under, where before it had never been a common avenue.

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Supply shortage, rise in demand push potato prices in India up by 40% in major cities

In the major metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, potatoes are selling for Rs 30-45 per kg, depending on the variety and quality. In Mumbai, a kg of potato is priced at Rs 35-45, while in Delhi and Kolkata prices are hovering between Rs 30-40 per kg. Potato traders from Uttar Pradesh, the largest producer of potatoes in India, said prices are unlikely to come down until November, when the new crop starts coming in.

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Signs of some recovery in global restaurant fry demand

Major potato processor Lamb Weston and global quick service restaurant chain McDonald’s saw sales fall significantly in the three months to the end of June, but it could have been much worse. There are also some signs of a recovery in restaurant fry sales, although fears over coronavirus remain, according to Cedric Porter, editor of weekly market briefing World Potato Markets. Lamb Weston’s sales were 16% lower in the quarter than the same period last year, with demand from foodservice distributors and smaller restaurant the most affected.

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Sending surplus crops to food banks helping Washington farmers, hungry families

George Ahearn had heard about farmers in Eastern Washington who were giving away potatoes and onions and wanted to know if someone had a truck he could borrow to haul the discarded crops to Western Washington food banks. The response was immediate and dramatic. A convoy of four trucks, including two with trailers, made the trip east, helping provide quite a bounty for local food banks.

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Commission approves €35 million Belgian scheme to support potato growers

The European Commission has approved a €35 million Belgian scheme to support companies active in the potato and floricultural primary production sectors in the Flemish region that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants. Of the total budget of €35m, €10m is earmarked to support potato growers, and €25m to support ornamental plant growers.

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Scotts sends first Evolution separator to South Africa following Canadian recommendation

A UK manufacturer of vegetable harvesting and handling machinery has supplied its first to order to South Africa thanks to a recommendation from a Canadian company. Scotts Precision Manufacturing has sent one of its Evolution separators to Bestbier South Africa after Allan Equipment in Canada recommended the unique machine. Designed in Boston, Lincolnshire, the Evolution gently separates vegetables from soil and clod and haulm.

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New trials: Trap crop for control of PCN in potato crops

Four group members of The Shropshire Potato Growers Discussion Group in the UK are hosting trials on their farm this year looking at trap crops as a method of PCN control. For potato growers in the UK one of the biggest threats to production and sustainability are the potato cyst nematodes (PCN) (Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis) which can result in significant yield losses.

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Winner of the World’s first International Potato Photography competition: ‘End of lockdown’

Today the organizers of the World’s first international Potato photography competition are thrilled to announce the winner… And the overall winner is: Ray Spence. The competition was inspired in part by the photo of a potato taken by acclaimed photographer Kevin Abosch that sold for $1 million in 2016. It is a splendid photograph and just goes to show there’s an appetite for potato-based photo-art…

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Sri Lanks stopping potato imports

The Prime Minister of Sri lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that the import of potatoes will be halted, following the general election. He mentioned this at a public meeting held in Boralanda, Welimada, last evening, July 26. Rajapaksa said that an era of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is an era where the farmer will become the king. Currently, there is no fair price for vegetable farmers and potato farmers, the Premier pointed out.

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East Anglia potatoes hitting Aldi shelves

A Holbeach producer has launched a range of locally grown potatoes for the supermarket Aldi. AH Worth has worked with Aldi to roll out a new line of its East Anglia Early Potatoes, as part of the supermarket’s Specially Selected range. The fourth-generation family farming business, founded in 1895, expects to supply around 400,000 packs of the early season Maris Peer potatoes to Aldi stores across the east of England.

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Management buyout at Puffin produce

Farmer shareholders at Haverfordwest-based Puffin Produce have relinquished control of the co-operative in a management buyout deal. The potato, vegetable and flower specialist was majority-owned by its growers in Pembrokeshire but they have sold 50 per cent of their stake in the business to managing director Huw Thomas and finance director Jon Langmead.

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Potato growers to benefit as Thailand lifts tariffs on Australian potatoes

AUSVEG, the industry representative for Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed the announcement from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud that two key commitments are now realised under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which will improve market access for Australian potato exporters into the Thai market.

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Only in wonderful Canada: Spuds for charity

On a sweltering Friday morning in Brandon, a town in Canada’s Manitoba province, there were two kinds of fries in the Keystone Centre parking lot: the french fries being handed out, and the volunteers handing them out. With a surplus of potatoes caused by a drop in demand due to COVID-19, McCain Foods partnered with Enns Brothers to clear out their backlog and raise some funds for STARS and Ronald McDonald House, which are splitting the proceeds 50-50. [STARS: Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service Foundation]

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USAID-supported potato development program in Kenya moves ahead despite COVID-19 crisis

In the last three months (April – June), the potato value chain component of the USAID-supported Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) program has continued implementing field activities, albeit at a slow pace due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical field activities such as seed distribution, establishment of learning farms, field crop management, and training of host farmers and farmer group representatives at the learning farms are ongoing though.

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Ukrainian producer and marketer of potatoes plans to build french fry production plant

Potato Agro is a Ukrainian based potato producing company that also markets potatoes under the brand name Bestpotato. According to a report by Potato System, the company is planning build its own processing plant next year. Konstantin Sarnatsky, Business Lead & CEO of Potato Agro, is quoted as saying that “this will be the first, or one of the very first factories for the production of french fries in the Ukraine.”

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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