New Zealand, Australia

‘Maara kai’: Re-invigorating Māori Food Sovereignty through potatoes

Māori have lived in New Zealand for around 700 years and were accomplished horticulturalists, bringing seed and tubers from their original homes in other Eastern Pacific Islands. They established ‘maara’ (gardens) in their new home Aotearoa/New Zealand, using sustainable methods, working with the land and climate. They also established trade with neighbouring Australia before colonisation changed the landscape of their[Read More…]

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Australian potato wholesaler fined for unfair contracts

Aussie potato wholesaler Mitolo Group has been fined A$240,000 (US$162,000) for infringements relating to its contracts with potato growers. In proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Federal Court declared that certain terms of contracts were unfair and therefore void. The contracts which were declared to be unfair included terms that allowed Mitolo to unilaterally[Read[Read More…]

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Australian potato growers push Simplot for price increase

Last month, Tasmanian potato growers in Australia unanimously rejected Simplot’s price offer. They are still working to negotiate a new contract. The company was offering a price increase of 2 cents a kilogram, or $20 a tonne for the upcoming season But grower Matt Ryan said Simplot was the processor stuck in the middle between the growers, consumers and retailers.[Read[Read More…]

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Australian potato growers plan to send more spuds overseas

West Australia’s embattled potato growers plan to collaborate to drive a sevenfold increase in spud exports within five years. WA Potato Growers Association chief executive Simon Moltoni said the State’s potato growers faced diminishing returns in a shrinking industry. But after commissioning industry and export development plans Mr Moltoni said he was confident growers could achieve better prices and grow[Read More…]

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Potatoes now worth one billion dollars to New Zealand economy

Chris Claridge, Potato New Zealand’s CEO, is pleased to see steady growth in potato volumes and values, writes Gemma Carroll, Communications & Engagement Officer at PNZ. “The latest figures in from 2018 indicate we’re holding our own in exports and the value domestically has gone up. It’s a good report. However we would like to lift our export market. The[Read More…]

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Australia’s Mitolo Group fined over unfair potato contracts

Australia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo Group Pty Ltd, has reportedly been fined $240,000 by the Federal Court over unfair contracts with its potato growers. In proceedings brought by the ACCC, the Federal Court found that Mitolo breached the Horticulture Code of Conduct in relation to 19 contracts entered into with potato growers between December 2016 and February 2018. Under the[Read[Read More…]

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Mail order spud company spreading love ‘one potato at a time’

Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations – there’s a spud for every moment, the man behind Potato Post NZ says. Srinivas Kalakota founded the startup, which lets customers send a potato with a personalised, handwritten message anywhere in the country, and said the aim was to “spread love, one potato at a time.” The online service launched two weeks ago and the response had[Read[Read More…]

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Australia: New symptoms of disease blackleg disease observed in the AuSPICA Scheme

AuSPICA is the authority that provides certification of seed potatoes throughout Victoria, South Australia and Northern NSW (Guyra). In a recent report, the organization says new symptoms of the disease blackleg were observed in the AuSPICA Scheme for the first time in 2019. During the 2018/2019 season, AuSPICA collected 160 plant samples that had symptoms of the so-called new blackleg[Read[Read More…]

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‘Retail pressure making potato farming unsustainable for growers’

Australian potato grower Matt Ryan says the supermarket giants and consumers are more responsible for low prices than processor Simplot. Tasmanian potato growers unanimously rejected Simplot’s price offer last week and are working to negotiate a new contract. But Mr Ryan said Simplot was the processor stuck in the middle of growers, consumers and retailers. “There needs to be a line drawn[Read[Read More…]

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Farmer’s open letter to skeptical consumers: ‘We know glyphosate and GMOs are safe, and we need both to fight climate change’

Despite repeated assurances from the mainstream science community that our food supply is safe, many consumers remain highly skeptical of conventional agriculture, mostly due to misinformation about GMO crops and pesticides perpetuated on social media. Farmers recognize how controversial their profession has become and have attempted to dialogue with consumers and assuage their concerns.  On June 10, South Australian farmer John[Read[Read More…]

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Tasmanian farmers fight for potato pay as Simplot records $62m profit

Tasmanian potato growers say Simplot is not paying them enough for their vegetables, as they negotiate a new contract with the vegetable processing giant. It comes six months after the Australian reported that Simplot’s profits increased 10-fold in 2018. Simplot’s Australian division made $62.3 million for its parent company’s American shareholders last year. There are about 140 potato growers in Tasmania who[Read[Read More…]

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Leading Tasmanian seed potato company wants to raise profile as minituber producer at upcoming conference

Raising the profile of its minituber production capabilities will be one of the main aims for Tasmania’s leading seed potato and agronomy businesses at this month’s Hort Connections event in Melbourne, reports FreshPlaza. Agronico was one of the first companies in Australia to introduce its own tissue culture lab, as part of its quality end-to-end seed potato process, which goes[Read[Read More…]

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X-ray vision said to pay dividends for Australian potato packing industry

In Victoria, Australia the first trials of x-ray technology in a potato packing facility are underway. In a recent article in Potatoes Australia magazine the benefits of the technology are explained. A 32-year strong partnership between Red Gem (potato growers) and supermarket chain Coles has culminated in an investment that may change the shape of the Australian potato industry. In[Read[Read More…]

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Potatoes New Zealand undertaking a country wide PMTV survey

In a report issued today, Potatoes New Zealand says they have been undertaking a PMTV survey. This has involved a PMTV survey assistant (a PNZ staff member) visiting farms who have agreed to be tested. The purpose of the survey is to establish where the disease is, to check seed lines and to ascertain the possibility of containment. The survey[Read[Read More…]

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Potatoes now worth one billion dollars to New Zealand economy

Chris Claridge, Potato New Zealand’s CEO, is pleased to see steady growth in potato volumes and values, says Gemma Carroll, the Communications & Engagement Officer at Potatoes NZ in a recent news release published on the organization’s website. “The latest figures in from 2018 indicate we’re holding our own in exports and the value domestically has gone up. It’s a[Read[Read More…]

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Analysis of historical specimens determines single origin of Australian potato pest

Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) are quarantine soilborne pests that damage potatoes around the world, stunting plants and reducing yields. PCN results in losses of 9% of total potato production in Europe and can cause total losses in other regions of the world. Phys.org reports on a recently published study by researcher Jacqueline Edwards and colleagues who used the PCN cyst[Read[Read More…]

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Australian potato industry recognises importance of standing together on biosecurity

In the first week of May, AUSVEG, Plant Health Australia and RMCG’s Doris Blaesing facilitated an industry consultation workshop with all sectors of the potato industry to understand the who, what and where of the industry’s approach to surveillance of exotic and notifiable pests and diseases. The workshop was one of the first steps towards developing the National Potato Biosecurity[Read[Read More…]

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Rising prices open up opportunities for New Zealand in Malaysia

Sales of European and United States fries to the Malaysian market dropped at the beginning of 2019 as prices rose on average by nearly 10%. Shortages of supplies for European processors saw the involvement of the Dutch, Belgian, German and Danish suppliers drop back. Over the course of the year they have been able to make significant inroads in what[Read[Read More…]

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New Zealand: Future spuds that pack a nutritious punch

“Will the future of farming look more like Star Trek than Footrot Flats, with drones, probes and farmers behind screens rather than tractor wheels?,” asks Gemma Carroll, Communications & Engagement Officer at Potatoes NZ in a recent article published on the PNZ website. “New Zealand potato growers produce a reliable yield, with a great deal of hardwork and many growers[Read[Read More…]

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Family ties bind success for Australian potato seed growers

Fred Bensley of Stillbrook Potato and Pastoral Company is one of four certified potato seed growers in Crookwell, New South Wales, Australia. He is a fourth-generation potato grower and learned on the job from a young age. “I remember the days when Dad used to be ploughing and I’d have my own little toy tractor, dragging the bucket around behind me,”[Read[Read More…]

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‘Nutritious, versatile and even sexy’: Western Australian potato farmers take on low-carb diets

Potato growers in Western Australia have joined an international campaign to tackle a decline in spud consumption driven by the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets. The campaign, engineered by the International Potato Centre, invites people to “imagine the world without potatoes”, a dystopia that the Potato Growers Association of WA is trying to avoid. Potato consumption has been declining in Australia, with sharper[Read[Read More…]

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High tech equipment ensures new level of performance for Aussie potato packer

Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce has installed a world-first Spectrim potato grading line as part of enhancements to its Penfield Gardens-based production facility. The company’s CEO, Rod Knight, said the multi-million dollar Compac potato sorting and grading technology ensures a new level of accuracy and consistency for supermarket retailers and our export partners to deliver the most accurately graded potatoes[Read[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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