Europe, UK, Ireland

Ireland: Lockdown woes; below average yields reported

Domestic consumption and retail demand remain buoyant as we head into week two of the second ‘National lockdown’ this year, according to the IFA. With all restaurants forced to close their doors and move to Take Out only, the food service sector is operating at just a fraction of normal trade, leading into what would typically be one of the busiest times of year. Liftings continue across the country, with some growers finishing this week. Lifting progress is estimated to be over 60%. There are continued reports of below average yields.

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‘The future is now’: Kiremko Remote Service starts up new Moroccan french fry line remotely

In a new milestone experience for both Kiremko and Moroccan potato processor Fun Fries, the new french fry line that was installed last summer was eventually started up entirely remotely using augmented reality. When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Kiremko’s engineers from boarding planes, a door was opened for a highly innovative solution that Kiremko developed: the Kiremko Remote Service. This service uses an advanced headset with camera, sound and monitor, an Internet connection and high-quality technicians on both sides of that connection.

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Arable Focus magazine: Latest issue now available online

Arable Focus is an arable magazine covering a variety of AHDB-funded activities. The autumn-winter issue of the magazine has been published and can now be downloaded online. Two articles of particular focus on the potato industry include: “An overview of the increasing use of precision technology for monitoring potato crop behaviour” and “A look at the importance of integrated potato store management to the future of your potatoes”.

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Belgapom announces major organizational changes going forward

Belgapom’s General Assembly decided to continue life as a non-profit organisation in future. In addition, a new board was elected. The new governing body extended Marc Van Herreweghe’s mandate as president. Romain Cools, outgoing secretary, was appointed acting CEO. Tom Vandenkendelaere informed the Belgapom president that he will not any longer accept the mandate to act as CEO of Belgapom.

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UK: Late blight fungicide given emergency approval

The Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) has approved the use of Funguran Progress to control late blight in organic potato crops. The approval was granted on 10 July under an emergency use application made by AHDB last year. Growers in England are able to use the fungicide until 30 September 2020 and have until 31 October 2020 to dispose of stocks. Marketed in the UK by Certis Europe BV, Funguran Progress has an active ingredient of 537 g/Kg copper hydroxide.

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Scotts introduces conversion kit for the GRIMME GT 170 harvester

Scotts Precision Engineering in the UK has launched an innovative conversion kit that allows owners of the GRIMME GT 170 trailed harvester to convert seamlessly to a fully functioning windrower without modifications to the host machine. Designed in response to local growers where the Grimme GT170 is their preferred choice of harvester, the Scotts GT170 Windrower conversion kit directly replaces the elevator module. As the kit is attached to the harvester through existing elevator fixing points, there is no need to modify the host machine and thus can be returned to its original set up quickly.

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TOMRA Insight: Cloud-based service unlocks the power of big data to monitor food sorting processes

Following its successful launch last year by TOMRA Sorting Recycling, TOMRA Insight is now also being made available to TOMRA Mining customers, TOMRA Food and Compac, part of the TOMRA Food family. For all these industries, the platform is enhanced by new features and functionalities. TOMRA Insight turns sorting and grading machines into connected devices that generate valuable process data. This data is stored securely in the cloud, converted into actionable information, and accessible from anywhere via a web portal for desktop and mobile devices.

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Europatat welcomes new Technical Affairs Director

The European Potato Trade Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Romans Vorss as the new Technical Affairs Director of the Association, with effect as of today, 26 October 2020. Romans Vorss has an extensive professional experience of more than ten years in Brussels, where he has been promoting and defending the interests of member associations and trading companies active in the EU agri-food trade sector. On behalf of the Europatat Board, Europatat’s Secretary General, Berta Redondo Benito, has welcomed this new addition to the team.

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Fairfields Farm to supply global meal kit player HelloFresh with its low carbon footprint potatoes

UK based potato grower, Fairfields Farm in Essex, recently announced that it will be supplying HelloFresh with its low carbon footprint potatoes from October. HelloFresh is the leading global meal kit player, operating in 14 countries, it has delivered 149 million meals worldwide in Q2 2020 alone. Fairfields Farm will be supplying HelloFresh in the UK with fresh potatoes from its family farm in Colchester, Essex, and helping the recipe box delivery service in its quest to become carbon neutral.

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Brexit: British seed potato sector on brink of EU and NI export ban

Britain’s seed potato sector is in turmoil, with just 10 weeks before exports to Europe and Northern Ireland (NI) face a total ban under a no-deal Brexit, reports Jonathan Riley for Farmers Weekly. As an EU member state, Britain has exported 30,000t of seed worth £13.5m to mainland Europe each winter. However, after 31 December, Britain will be classified under EU trade rules as a “third country” unless a trade deal is reached with the EU.

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NEPG: Potato plantings in Northwestern Europe expected to decrease by a minimum of 15 %

The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) estimates that the total harvest will be 27.9 million tons this season if all potatoes in the ground will be indeed harvested. In a press release the NEPG says the harvest is later than usual with all the risks involved and there are still some potatoes in challenging wet areas in Western Belgium and Great Britain. This is 4,5 % or 1 million tons more than last season in the 5 leading potato countries. The NEPG considers that the growers in the North-Western EU will plant 15 % less next spring.

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Haith bags global enquiries after Facebook video goes viral

Haith Group has seen a resurgence of interest in its innovative bag filling machine after a video posted on social media was viewed more than one million times. The twenty second video which shows the Haith Supa-Bag 10 mobile bagging trailer filling ten one-ton jumbo bags was posted by the company last month. One week later, video views had exceeded 100,000, and the company had received seven sales enquiries from people in the UK, New Zealand, North America, Brazil and the Czech Republic. The already popular video was later posted by Pro Horizon and viewings rocketed to over one million.

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European Union: Temporary chlorpropham MRL gets green light

It’s a green light for a temporary Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) for the sprout inhibitor, chlorpropham. That level may be 0.4 mg/kg in ware potatoes. A European Union Standing Committee agreed to this in a digital vote. The temporary MRL is expected to take effect around the summer of 2021. The exact starting date depends on further decision-making within the EU. The current 10.0 mg/kg MRL will remain in force. That’s until the temporary MRL comes into effect. The use of Chlorpropham has been banned. But, ware potatoes will still be delivered under the current MRL. That’s in the 2020/2021 season.

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Ireland: Potato growers supplying food service having ‘one of the worst years on record’

According to the latest potato market report by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), liftings continue this week in Ireland following a reasonably dry few days. There are continued reports that yields are below average especially in areas that were affected by drought earlier in the year. As it stands, IFA says that growers supplying the food service sector have had one of the worst years on record. Trade for Kerr Pinks is holding steady and quality is reported as very good.

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PotatoEurope 2021: Pre-registration opens, and participants are enthusiastically signing up

Last week the organizers of the PotatoEurope 2021 event opened pre-registration for participants interested in taking part in the coming event, and they report that a great number of participants have opted to sign up for the upcoming edition. PotatoEurope takes place each year in one of four partnering countries, namely Germany, Belgium, France and The Netherlands. Next year PotatoEurope 2021 will be hosted in The Netherlands on 1 and 2 September at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Field crops in Lelystad. The event is expected to feature more than 275 exhibitors from all over the world, welcoming more than 16.000 visitors in the two days during which it will take place.

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British potato packer boosts output with new equipment

One of the UK’s leading potato packers has seen a dramatic increase in productivity after investing in new machinery. Over the last six months, IPL, which is part of the ASDA family, has seen throughput increase by 25%. In February, the company doubled the number of GIC machines operating at its Scottish factory and has since seen productivity increase by 15% and mechanical downtime reduce by 2%. Kirsty Reid, Factory Manager at IPL Inchture, says: “Introducing the two new GIC machines to our line at IPL Inchture in February has been incredibly successful. We now operate four GIC8000s and as a result, the tonnage we can handle each hour has increased.

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A changing market landscape in the British potato industry: What behavioural changes has Coronavirus driven?

Following an extraordinary few months for the industry, join the AHDB Retail & Consumer Insight team during a series of webinars, focused on reviewing how the market and consumers have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, and what opportunities and threats this now presents for AHDB sectors. Grace Randall joins Kim Malley for this webinar focused on potatoes, discussing how purchasing and consumption has been impacted by coronavirus, pulling out the opportunities and threats for the category in the future.

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Upcoming event: HZPC Potato Days 2020 Live

Potato Days in the Netherlands is an internationally known event on the annual potato industry event schedule. Every year in November, the event is organized by several companies, including potato breeder HZPC. This year the event will be hosted as a virtual event on Wednesday, November 4th. The theme is “Let’s connect!” Professionals from across the potato chain will come together from all corners of the world virtually to experience the latest potato varieties and to network. The digital domain offers potato breeder HZPC many opportunities to help even participants to connect in creative ways.

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Have you spotted Bud the Spud?

Potatoes’ versatility and health benefits have been highlighted during a three-month lockdown marketing campaign by AHDB, reports News Journalist Kelly Henaughen for The Scottish Farmer. From May to July, the levy-funded body brought back its Bud the Spud character to encourage consumers to rethink the way they saw potatoes in a continuation of the ‘More Than a Bit on the Side’ campaign.

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Brexit reality dawns for Ireland’s potato growers

The potato trade in Ireland has been warned to have all seed potatoes for next year’s crop imported from Britain by December 31, according to a report by Declan O’Brien, published in the Independent. A trade notice issued by the Department of Agriculture said imports of “certified seed and ware potatoes” from Britain will be prohibited from the end of 2020 when the UK leaves the EU.

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The Glasgow potato project bringing people together

Ada, husband Martin and their twins Gemma and Mark have spent this strangest of summers taking part in An Empty Gunny Bag Cannot Stand, an ingenious food-growing project dreamt up by Angus Farquhar and Rudy Kanhye of Aproxima Arts. It culminated in a fantastic harvest event, featuring music and performance by Mischief-La-Bas, and free chips. Ada Stewart adds: “This project has been a light of sunshine in months of uncertainty. The team’s determination and hard work to make this happen is a great inspiration for us and the kids.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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