Europe, UK, Ireland

Belgian potato fries in the frying pan: Country’s proud industry feeling the heat of COVID-19 effects

When you read the headline ‘Belgian’s urged to eat more fries’ you may think it’s a joke, but in Belgium, it was a serious request, reports Leighton Schneider for ABC News International. The country’s potato industry has been hit hard by COVID-19 since it started hitting China and the rest of Asia. Romain Cools, the Secretary-General of Belgapom, which oversees Belgium’s potato trade and processing industry, tells ABC News’ “Perspective Podcast” the country has a giant surplus of potatoes, which was caused by the shutdown of the food service sector since about 70 percent of the potatoes in Belgium are consumed out of the home.

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The British chipping market state of play

Last week saw the release of our end-March stocks estimates. Fresh bags and chipping stocks that remain in grower ownership at the end of March were estimated at 157.3Kt. This shows a 49% drawdown from end of January, suggesting 151.6Kt moved from grower ownership in that time. By the end of March approximately 79% of fresh bag and chipping material had left grower ownership which is 2% lower than the 5-year average. However the question faced is; what will happen to the remaining 21% if the fish and chip trade remains subdued?

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Dutch government to allocate € 50 million to help potato growers

The government of the Netherlands will provide € 650 million to save farmers from complete bankruptcy and to pay off losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Of this amount, about € 50 million will be used to help potato growers. The Netherlands is one of the world’s leading producers of potatoes for fast food chains. Due to quarantine restrictions, most catering establishments are closed worldwide. Therefore, the Dutch potato entrepreneurs faced the problem of the inability to sell their products.

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New planters in AVR Ceres series for planting 2 to 4 rows

This month, producer of potato cultivation machines, AVR will be introducing no less than three new planters: the Ceres 200M, Ceres 200H, and Ceres 440. The highlight of the Ceres 440 is undoubtedly its AVR Connect system, which unites all planting information and remote parameters in one digital platform. Get ready for the next chapter in AVR’s precision farming story.

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Trial shows best nematicide strategy for PCN in potatoes

A sequences approach using a liquid nematicide with a new mode of action along with an existing granular product is the best approach for tackling potato cyst nematode, according to trials carried out by specialist potato agronomy group Produce Solutions. The company has spent three years testing the nematicide in Shropshire, using it alone and in sequence with granular nematicides at different rates. The firm now has a clearer view on its place in potato cyst nematode strategies and the costs involved.

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AHDB Analysis: An in-depth look at the British potato processing market

The following in-depth analysis of the British potato processing market was prepared by Alex Cook at AHDB Potatoes. Over the course of the lockdown so far, processors have reportedly operated a lower output with reduced labour in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Many have opted to close certain product lines to reduce workloads. A continued loss in foodservice through to the end of the season is expected.

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How the Corona crisis is disrupting the European potato processing sector

Martine van der Wekken of FreshPlaza spoke with Hylke Brunt, the Dutch Potato Processing Industry Association’s (VAVI) secretary, and Romain Cools, general secretary of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trading and processing sectors’ professional association, to learn more about the lay of the land in the European processing sector from their respective vantage points. Hylke Brunt says the out-of-home market has collapsed throughout Europe. Romain Cools told van der Wekken the foodservice sector has largely vanished for everyone, locally and overseas.

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‘The European potato world is upside down’: NEPG paints a dark picture of the current and future European situation

The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) says that the foodservice demand for potato products in Europe has dropped by 50 to 60%, and the export markets have lost its potential as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It says the global potato processing industry has reduced production capacity everywhere. More than 2 million tons of raw product will most likely not be processed in Europe. This is the first time in recent history that processors have to back down on contracts. The world is upside down, the NEPG says in its press release

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Britain’s AHDB announces extended marketing campaign and trade portal to help shift spuds

AHDB released plans for an extended consumer marketing campaign, and a portal to help put the growers and buyers of potatoes in touch. AHDB says it is increasing consumer marketing activity for the year ahead, with a lockdown boost through social media, advertising, promotion via catch-up TV and activity within retail outlets. A trade portal will be launched this week where wholesale potato buyers and merchants can post requirements for potatoes, and growers can post available stocks.

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Potato crop in danger after months of extreme weather in Northern Ireland

Rain is urgently needed to save this season’s local potato crop, an industry figure has warned. Stuart Meredith, an agronomist with Wilson’s Country potato firm, said a particularly wet autumn, followed by one of the driest springs on record, had caused severe problems that had led to eight months of “absolute extremes for growers”. The east of Northern Ireland has been worst affected by the lack of rain.

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Focus on biostimulants: Keep potato crops stress free with ‘Bridgeway’

Keeping potato crops stress free is not an easy job for growers, particularly when one considers the key growth periods of June through to August are also potentially some of the most stressful for the crop, with temperature and drought stress being particularly prevalent. Interagro’s Bridgeway biostimulant product is said to offer the possibility of reducing stress by improving root health and by increasing the rate of photosynthesis.

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Support for British potato growers: Tesco commits to now sell chipping varieties as part of its ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range

More potatoes will hit shelves from this week to meet soaring demand. UK potato growers who have been left with surplus stock because of the closure of restaurants and fast food outlets are being given a helping hand by Tesco. The closure of restaurants, pubs and many fast food outlets has left a major surplus of particular varieties that are made into chips, which potato growers cannot now easily sell on. Now Tesco has teamed up with potato supplier Branston to take these potatoes that were previously destined for the catering trade.

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Video: AHDB Potatoes strategy director provides overview and outlook for the British potato market

In this video, published May 1 by AHDB Potatoes in the UK, strategy director Rob Clayton provides some context around the March stocks estimate (released May 1). Dr Clayton says that this estimate is an important ‘line in the sand’ which allows AHDB to calculate how much potatoes are left in growers’ stores, which in turn will help AHDB to strategize and plan different marketing scenarios for the rest of the spring and into the summer.

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Haith helps the Jersey Royal Company reduce labour costs with new de-stoners

Jersey’s largest grower, packer and marketer of Jersey Royal new potatoes has seen a significant reduction in labour costs this season thanks to a project undertaken with the Haith Group. Jersey’s largest grower, packer and marketer of Jersey Royal new potatoes has seen a significant reduction in labour costs this season thanks to a project undertaken with the Haith Group.

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Lockdown effect: British potato stocks 20 percent higher than last year

Potato stocks held by growers at the end of March were 20% higher than the same point last year due to the impact of Covid-19 on consumer demand. Figures from AHDB show that the stocks of potatoes in Britain totalled 1.19 million tonnes, which is 5 percent above the five-year average, the FarmingUK team reports. Dr Rob Clayton, potatoes strategy director at AHDB, said that the specialist nature of the potatoes used for each part of the market meant some growers could suffer ‘large financial losses’.

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British farming show goes digital in face of coronavirus lockdown

Rural communities disappointed by the cancellation of farming shows due to coronavirus will still be able to experience the fun of the fair from their homes – by joining the first online agricultural show, Farmers Weekly reports. The free one-day event takes place on Saturday (2 May) and will feature the farming competitions, debates, innovations and demonstrations that are usually commonplace at shows across the country during the summer.

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Belgians urged to eat potato fries twice a week as civic duty

The potato industry is urging Belgian citizens to consume French fries at least twice per week in an effort to support the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anna Starostinetskaya reports in VegNews. “We’re working with supermarkets to see whether we can launch a campaign asking Belgians to do something for the sector by eating fries—especially frozen fries—twice a week during the coronavirus crisis. What we are trying to do is to avoid food waste, because every lost potato is a loss,” Romain Cools, secretary general of Belgian potato industry group Belgapom, told CNBC.

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Potato storage specialist comments on the future of potato storage research in the UK

The following letter was sent to Potato News Today by potato storage specialist in the UK, Ray Andrews, and we published it as such. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country.

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Potato late blight in Europe

Didier Andrivon from INRA delves into the disease that once killed 1.5 million individuals in Ireland: Potato late blight, also known as Phytophthora Infestans It would be easy to think that a disease peaking over one hundred years ago is no longer a problem, but potato late blight continues to evolve and emerge in new places – similarly to the insidious reach of[Read More…]

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BlightCast now live and running for the 2020 potato season in the UK

Syngenta’s BlightCast tool is now live and running for the 2020 season, to give British potato growers and agronomists a clear picture of impending blight pressure and risks – in time to make active application decisions. “BlightCast showed the first Hutton Criteria hits for the site were on the 16th August, but no Smith Periods were triggered until 24th August; in that time the visual assessment of blight inoculated trials went from virtually nothing detectable to widespread infection,” says Syngenta potato specialist, Rob Farrow.

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How ethylene can help control sprouting in potato stores

Ethylene can provide potato producers with a viable sprout-control solution in a range of situations, with one large potato processing company already using an ethylene delivery system in all of its medium- to long-term stores. Adam Clarke of Farmers Weekly in the UK reports.

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CIPC dilemma: Moving potatoes from processing to general ware markets

Several growers in the UK are looking to find new customers for potatoes in store as food service outlets across the country have closed. AHDB Potatoes warns growers that the total dose of CIPC must not exceed 24g per tonne for use in the general ware market. AHDB Potatoes says that although there is freedom to move between sectors, limits are observed.

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Inspiring: 99-year-old British war veteran praised as ‘beacon of hope’, raised £15m for health service staff

A 99-year-old war veteran has raised a staggering £15m for the national hospital service (NHS) staff in the UK in view of the COVID-19 crisis. He initially hoped to reach £1,000 after completing 100 laps of his garden with his metal framed ‘walker’. He hit £1m on Tuesday morning, and the total rose to £4m by that night. It now stands at more than £15m.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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