Europe, UK, Ireland

INTERPOM 2022 to feature innovations in the potato industry, seminars on climate change, crop protection and sustainability

INTERPOM 2022 will take place on 27, 28 & 29 of November and will once again be the ultimate international meeting place in Kortrijk Xpo (Belgium) for all professionals involved in the potato sector, according to the organizers. The event theme, ‘Towards healthy growth’, is all about cultivation methods, land use, growing in a socially responsible way, but also about sustainable transport and processing, autonomous energy use and sustainable water management.

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Sustainability trend: Crunch time as crisp makers adopt plastic-free packets

In March this year, Del Currie launched Spudos, which now supplies crisps to more than 65 so-called “zero-waste shops” across the UK and Republic of Ireland. The biggest names in the crisps sector say they will need additional time to switch to more environmentally-friendly packaging. In the meantime, it is smaller crisps firms who are leading the way in terms of more eco-friendly packaging, such as Canadian business Humble Potato Chips. In the UK, farmers Sean Mason and Mark Green launched sustainable crisps brand Two Farmers.

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IFA: Wet conditions hamper potato harvest in Ireland, prices trending higher in Europe

Harvest was ground to a halt in many areas in Ireland over the last week with very wet weather conditions, the outlook for the next week looks unsettled also, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its weekly potato market report. There are reports of some quality issues with current conditions. Across Europe, those with quality samples are confident and continue to try to force prices higher. There is an anticipation that values will improve in the fresh sector.

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Haith presented with prestigious Queens Award for Rota-Tip TE box tippler

Haith Group has been presented with its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise trophy. The designer and manufacturer of vegetable handling equipment was recognised in 2022’s Innovation category for its Rota-Tip Top Eject. Since introducing the Up-Eject system, Haith has sold over 180 machines to most of the UK’s leading fresh produce suppliers and exported them to Europe, Japan, Israel, Canada and the United States.

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What next? Climate protestors throw mashed potato at Monet painting in Germany

In another shocking climate protest, activists have thrown mashed potato on a $100 million Monet at a German museum, as Karan reports for The Art Insider. Both were later taken away, though it seems no charges are being pressed against them. After the incident, the museum announced that no damage came to the painting since it was ‘glazed’.

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Cost of farm inputs in Britain soars ‘eye-watering’ 34% in a year

Farm input inflation has reached unprecedented levels in Great Britain, with seven out of nine categories seeing double-digit cost increases in the past year, threatening the viability of many farm businesses. As Philip Clarke reports for Farmers Weekly, latest figures from the country’s largest buying group, AF, show that, in the 12 months to September 2022, the cost of farm inputs went up by an “eye-watering” 34%.

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SAC Consulting: How do you know if potato fields have PCN?

Potato cyst nematodes, or PCN, have been moving up the agenda for Scottish growers for some time now, writes Jane Brisbane of SAC Consulting in an article published by The Scottish Farmer. “These pests have become a serious threat to our tattie industry and it’s not just an issue potato growers need to take seriously, but everyone in arable production, especially those who rent out land for potatoes,” she notes.

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Coming soon, the not-so-humble potato with more vitamin C than a lemon

Potatoes with as much vitamin C as a lemon could be grown and sold in England within five years using “game-changing” gene-editing technology, scientists have predicted. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee could double the amount of vitamin C in a new strain of potato by snipping out sections of its DNA, as Max Stephens reports for The Telegraph.

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Climate change: Specialist warns of future ‘existential threat’ to the British potato industry

The humble potato may struggle to grow in the UK in years to come due to climate change, researchers have warned. The James Hutton Institute (JHI) at Invergowrie, just outside Dundee, is now trying to find varieties that will grow in warmer conditions. Prof Lesley Torrance, the JHI research organisation’s executive director of science, warned that climate change posed an “existential threat” to the potato industry.

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Potato yields declined by 15 percent in Ireland

Potato yields have declined year on year by approximately 10 to 15% in 2022, Teagasc has confirmed. “In some areas the fall-off in yield has been significantly greater than 15%,” said Shay Phelan, Teagasc potato specialist. “In these cases, the combined impact of the dry weather, lighter soils and little or no access to irrigation systems have all come into play.”

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Haith to reveal new mobile water treatment system at Interpom

The UK’s leading manufacturer of vegetable handling solutions will reveal the latest innovation in mobile machinery at next month’s Interpom (27 – 29 November) – a Mobile Water Treatment System. Utilising Haith’s extensive knowledge of designing and installing water treatment systems at factories, the new Mobile Water Treatment System can be used on-farm at strategic locations or at production factories.

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AVR’s Spirit 7200 now equipped with new ‘Clean & Go’ bunker

AVR’s newest Spirit 7200 recently joined the AVR Spirit family as a trailed, two-row offset potato harvester. New for this machine is that it can now optionally be equipped with the new ‘Clean & Go’ bunker. The new Clean & Go bunker provides additional cleaning by means of a cleaning roller mounted between the bunker floor and the elevator. Nonstop harvesting offers huge logistic advantages. With the Clean & Go bunker, AVR combines the best of 2 worlds.

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NFU welcomes launch of new industry body GB Potatoes

The NFU has welcomed the launch of the voluntary initiative of GB Potatoes this week, which should fill gaps left in the industry since the demise of AHDB Potatoes. NFU Potato Forum Chair Tim Rooke said: “There have been crucial gaps left in the industry since the demise of AHDB Potatoes, such as a dedicated, sector-specific voice for the broader industry… Some growers will therefore welcome this voluntary initiative to help address some of these gaps…”

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GB Potatoes: Newly launched trade body aims to ‘bring the industry together’ through all-sector representation

A brand-new industry body, GB Potatoes Ltd, was launched the past week. GB Potatoes says it plans to unite the UK potato industry and work with existing produce trade associations to represent the potato sector’s interests and future development in the wake of AHDB Potatoes discontinuation. Mark Taylor, Inaugural Chair of GB Potatoes said, “Our launch couldn’t come at a more important time for the GB Potato Industry. The Great British Potato needs to be championed!”

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Reducing virgin plastic: PepsiCo UK invests in new sustainable food packaging innovations

PepsiCo UK announced a £14 million investment in new sustainable food packaging innovations that will remove 250 tonnes of virgin plastic from its supply chain annually. The outer plastic packaging on millions of Walkers 22- and 24- bag multipacks will be replaced with a new cardboard design which reduces the amount of virgin plastic the company uses. The new outer packaging will be on-shelves in all major supermarkets in the UK in the coming weeks.

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Company develops technology to produce egg protein in potatoes

Maya Sapir-Mir and Raya Liberman-Aloni, co-founders of the Israeli start-up PoLoPo, have developed a technology capable of producing egg protein (ovalbumin) in potatoes. PoLoPo believes that ovalbumin is ‘just the beginning’. “We also believe we have another product: a high-protein potato. Potato protein is highly commercial and has a lot of functionality, similar to ovalbumin.”

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New broad-spectrum antibiotic comes from a pathogenic bacterium in potatoes

The growing threat of antimicrobial resistance has led researchers to search for new compounds everywhere, according to a news release issued by the American Society for Microbiology. This week in mBio, a multinational team of researchers in Europe report the discovery of a new antifungal antibiotic named solanimycin. The pathogenic potato bacterium Dickeya solani, which produces solanimycin, was first identified more than 15 years ago.

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Targeted fertiliser application: Stocks AG’s rotor meter saves Jersey Royal Company £300,000

In the last six years, one of the UK’s leading potato growers has saved over £300,000 through an unconventional but highly effective use of Stocks AG’s Rotor Meter. In 2020 Stocks AG developed the i-CON system to control and maintain pre-set application rates and subsequently fitted it to The Jersey Royal Company’s machines. Further reductions in fertiliser use followed.

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HZPC CEO positive, says ‘results good, and company back on course’

In the 2021/2022 fiscal year, HZPC managed to bring its results back on course after a challenging 2020/2021 fiscal year. Says Gerard Backx, CEO HZPC: “Times remain uncertain. The fact that in 2021/2022 we brought the profit figure back in line with our ambitions makes us cautiously positive about the results for the coming years.”

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Microbiome project: Tools to optimize potato microbiome could reduce the use of agrochemicals

A project aimed at developing new tools to predict and optimize potato plant growth by mapping the microorganisms living on seed potatoes has been awarded 940.000 Euro in funding. A promising strategy to reduce the use of these agrochemicals, is to optimize the composition of beneficial microorganisms living on the plant. These microorganisms support growth and strength, creating a natural defense mechanism for potato plants.

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Scottish MP continues campaign for seed potato exports post-Brexit

Gordon MP Richard Thomson has continued his campaign to restore access to the export markets in the EU and Northern Ireland for Scottish seed potatoes. Prior to Brexit, Scottish seed potatoes were a crucial import for European markets.  However, since January 2021 Scotland’s farmers have been unable to export seed potatoes to the EU, including Northern Ireland, because of changes in trade regulations as a result of Brexit.

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Shoppers warned of shorter chips after heatwave and drought blights Britain’s potato crops

Farmers warned supermarkets will be selling shorter chips and smaller potatoes after a lack of rain this summer impacted crops. Tim Rooke, chair of the National Farmers Union’s potato forum, said the industry had struggled. He said the summer had been “very difficult” for the industry, with the yield for those who had not been able to irrigate their crops down between 25 percent and 40 percent.

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