New Zealand, Australia

New Zealand: Potato exports plummet amid claims of European dumping

New Zealand’s potato trade is struggling as exports to some key markets plummeted in December, new figures show. According to a report by RNZ’s Riley Kennedy, a dispute broke out last year over claims European producers were dumping frozen fries into markets around the world. Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge believed that was a major factor in the drop in export.

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Western Australia: ‘Back to Basics’ for autumn potato marketing campaign

Local consumer research has shown that those who are decreasing their consumption of potatoes are concerned about health and weight loss. Those who have increased their potato consumption are interested in budget-friendly and healthy meals and are young families or young adults with no kids. So says Western Australia’s Marketing Manager, Georgia Thomas. The theme of the Autumn-Winter campaign for WA Potatoes is “back to basics”. The direction will see a selection of simple, healthy recipes developed.

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Novel research by Australian farmers to turn waste into biohydrogen fuel and fertiliser

Trials to turn waste from potato farms into fertiliser and energy are underway in regional Victoria in a bid to be environmentally friendly and lower the costs for farmers. Jane McNaughton and Steve Martin of ABC Ballarat reports on this research and development project based in Mollongghip, between Ballarat and Daylesford, that aims to convert agricultural waste, known as biomass, into hydrogen.

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New Zealand’s South Island and green onion chips: A love story for the ages

From the tip of Farewell Spit to the very arse end of Stewart Island, there is one delicacy that unites Te Wai Pounamu: the humble green onion chip. But why? Alice Neville embarks on a quest for the true story behind this regional snacking quirk in a delightful article. We publish a brief excerpt here – the full story can be read on The Spinoff.

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Specialist opinion: ‘Adopting IPM on commercial farms’ – An insight from New Zealand

During the recent CropTec show in the UK – which was hosted and presented as a virtual, online event – Prof Alison Stewart from New Zealand shared her experience of developing and implementing IPM on commercial farms. She is the CEO of the Foundation for Edible Research in New Zealand. Prof Stewart says there are a large number of global challenges out there for agriculture in every country in the world, and New Zealand is no different.

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Australia: Specialists explore effect of sanitisers and drying on post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes

Management of rots, both in the field and post-harvest, is an ongoing challenge for potato producers around the world, also in Australia. The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Partnership Network recently hosted a podcast during which two specialists from the US and Belgium discussed a trial that was set up in Australia to explore the effect of sanitisers and/or drying on the development of post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes.

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‘Turning the precision into a decision’: John Deere launches digital farming hub for growers down under

John Deere has launched a new digital platform to help farmers in Australia and New Zealand leverage the data of their technology more effectively. René Groeneveld, Future Farming correspondent for Australia writes that the new John Deere Digital Agriculture Hub will offer digital information, insights and learning resources. It will help growers to use data in decision-making and offers how-to-videos and case studies.

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Pink rot and potatoes: ICP project in Australia published practical fact sheet

Pink rot of potato is an important soil borne storage disease of potatoes worldwide. This useful fact sheet outlines the symptoms, hosts, risk factors & disease cycle of pink rot, as well as potential management options. The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) project in Australia published a practical 6 page fact sheet on pink rot and how it impacts potatoes.

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‘A partnership built on mutual trust’: Zerella Fresh reinvest in Wyma

South Australia’s Zerella Fresh this month committed to expand the capacity of their potato washing and grading line. Building on a long, and successful relationship, Zerella Fresh have again chosen to reinvest with Wyma Solutions, for their post-harvest needs. “Wyma has been supplying Zerella Fresh with post-harvest equipment and expertise for over two decades. It is a partnership built on mutual trust, as well as a common purpose to consistently deliver the best produce possible,” says Andrew Barclay, Managing Director, Wyma Solutions.

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Hard polishing before cutting for crisps with the Wyma Vege-Polisher system

Potato crisp manufacturing is a competitive industry, one where efficiency is a crucial factor in staying ahead of the competition. Wyma’s Vege-Polisher™ system combines both polishing and peeling technology in a unique package to minimise the impact and wear on downstream potato processing equipment, allowing crisp producers to generate greater returns from their line.

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Tasmanian Government confirms it will update potato import risk assessment

Tasmania’s import risk assessment for potatoes will be updated following concerns raised by growers over an import license approval. Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett during budget estimates last week confirmed work on the import risk assessment was underway and was part of the government’s response to the controversy caused by a granted import licence to a South Australian processor.

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New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority approves new herbicide Solento

Potato farmers in New Zealand have a new tool to control broadleaf weeds in their crops, now that a new herbicide has been approved with strict conditions. Soleto contains the active ingredient metobromuron, which is new to New Zealand, but approved in Europe. The applicant, Belchim Crop Protection, sought approval for the importation or manufacture of Soleto. It said the way the product is used (ground-based application) means that there is a low exposure risk for operators and bystanders.

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PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand appoints new Chief Marketing Officer

PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) has announced the appointment of Vandita Pandey to the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer for both snacks and beverages. Pandey comes from Frito-Lay (a PepsiCo company) in the United States where she has spent the last 11 years in roles that span across marketing, corporate strategy, insights and media. Her latest role was General Manager, Bare Snacks.

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Another Scotts Evolution Dirt Remover sent to Wyma in New Zealand

A UK manufacturer of vegetable harvesting equipment has seen a surge in demand for its unique vegetable handling machine from customers in New Zealand. Scotts Precision Manufacturing has this month sent its fourth Evolution Dirt Removers to Wyma, which has included the innovative separator in a cleaning line that will be used by a large scale potato packer in Canterbury.

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Video: Australian potato grower speaks out about the health benefits of potatoes

In this video, Kerri Ann Lamb tells the story of her family’s potato-growing business at Wickham Farms, Killarney, Queensland in Australia. Kerri is fourth fourth generation potato farmer. Says Kerri: “Our potatoes are planted in October, so they’ll be ready to harvested in February. It will be harvested and sent to the pack house in February and they’ll be sold fresh n supermarkets as brushed potatoes as well.

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European potato ‘dumping’ hurting New Zealand growers and industry

According to a report by Toni Williams for Rural Life in New Zealand, an influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses. Latest figures were estimated at a surplus of 2.6million tonnes in Europe and growing due to the impacts of further lockdowns in parts of Europe.

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Potato deal strengthens Australia’s Mitolo Group as it digs in for new season

The recent finalisation of a takeover of Thomas Foods International’s potato business and a spike in demand through the coronavirus pandemic has cemented Mitolo Group as the Australia’s largest fresh spud producer. The TFI acquisition boosted Mitol’s capacity by about 20 per cent and included a second packing facility as well one farm and the lease on another. The new deal increased Mitolo’s total annual production to 125,000 tonnes of washed potatoes, 50,000 tonnes of brushed potatoes and 35,000 tonnes of onions.

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Ministerial spud: Jacinda Ardern’s Instagram post goes viral after she’s sent potato in mail

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, and there’s no doubt she ‘s-mash-ed’ the election. Her big wide smile is ‘ap-peeling’, inspirational messages ‘spud-tacular’ – and according to election results, 49 percent of Kiwis ‘rooted’ for her, writes Crystal Wu in a news story published by Newshub.

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New Zealand govt department investigating frozen fries import threat

The New Zealand potato industry are relieved that the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) trade remedies team has now launched an investigation into the proven threat of surplus frozen fries being imported into New Zealand. This MBIE decision was based on the positive evidence the New Zealand potato industry provided in their application completed in September this year, as part of the Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) Pandemic Industry Recovery Plan.

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McDonald’s fries sustain Kiwi potato growers after Covid-19 ‘floods of spuds’

Supplying McDonald’s with all their potatoes means a Canterbury grower has been able to avoid the worst effects of a Covid-19-inspired glut of overseas potatoes on the New Zealand market. Canterbury-based Hewson Farms produces around 22,000 tonnes of potatoes every year – 12,000 tonnes of which end up as McDonald’s fries. However, a 2.6 million tonne surplus of the vegetable in Europe – floods of spuds – is causing headaches for New Zealand growers and processors.

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Study found that potato based diet does not disturb blood sugar control in diabetes

Researchers have found for the first time in a rigorously controlled clinical trial that people with diabetes don’t need to avoid potatoes. It is often said that potatoes with high glycemic index should be avoided by diabetics as they may adversely affect blood sugar. But the study indicates that glycemic index is not an accurate surrogate for an individual’s glycemic response (GR) to a food consumed as part of an evening meal. The researchers concluded that potatoes are a vegetable that is sustainable, affordable and nutrient-dense, and thus, they can play an important role in modern diets irrespective of metabolic health status.

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Aussie potato squabbles: Good and bad news for Tasmanian potato growers on fresh potato imports

The review of the decision by Biosecurity Tasmania on fresh potato imports comes with a couple of modifications to the original decision which upset Tasmanian potato growers. Biosecurity Tasmania has also been given a slap on the wrist by Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett for the way in which the decision was made without consultation. And the company which won the approval to bring potatoes into the state says the process to get the go ahead has been a waste of time as none wants to market the spuds.

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Australia: Former plant protection officer delivers review into potato imports into Tasmania

Approval to grant a South Australian company a licence to import potatoes into Tasmania will remain unchanged following an independent review, according to a report by Caitlin Jarvis of The Exminer. Jarvis reports that former federal chief plant protection officer and plant pathologist Lois Ransom handed her findings into the controversial decision on Monday. Ms Ransom found the decision to approve a conditional import licence for “ware potatoes” – or potatoes for human consumption – to Mitolo Group was technically sound.

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McCain opens ‘world class’ potato storage facility in Australia

A McCain storage facility capable of storing 11,000 tonnes of potatoes has opened at South Burnie, a locality and suburb of Burnie, in the North West region of Tasmania in Australia, according to a report by Sandy Powell for The Advocate. Sandy writes that the facility, which can hold 9,000 tonnes of potatoes in cold-storage long term, as well as a further 2,000 tonnes in short term storage, is run by McCain Foods. Plant operator Rodney Smith said the facility is truly “world-class”.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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