In a message from Jane King, CEO of AHDB, she says: “To our farmers, growers and supply-chain businesses. We are all living in the most extraordinary of times. To bring all the latest advice together in one place, AHDB has created specific coronavirus-related pages on its website where you can access the latest Government advice for employers and employees, links to other industry organisations, frequently asked questions and a wealth of tools and business information.
Europe, UK, Ireland
Scottish farmers have started getting this year’s crop of tatties in the ground in many parts of the country, The Press and Journal reports. NFU Scotland potato chairman Pete Grewar, who runs an extensive potato growing enterprise across Scotland, said planting progress was dependent on weather in recent months. “In Perthshire and Angus most potato growers will now have made a start with all enjoying a settled dry spell through the latter part of March and the first half of April. Heavier ground is still damp at depth from a wet winter.”
In the latest Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Potato Market Report, it is said that the retail trade remains strong albeit slightly erratic following the Easter break. The processing sector remains at a standstill although more restaurants are opening on a ‘take-away’ basis following the announcement of further restrictions. Meanwhile plantings continue at pace across the country.
A new online marketplace, Foodens has launched in the UK – connecting shops and food suppliers with their local communities. Businesses can list food boxes for sale (for both collection and delivery), helping to distribute food across the UK in a safe zero-contact manner, Farmers Guide reports. Foodens.com is run by the Foodens Foundation, a non-profit organisation.
This week AHDB Potatoes in the UK published a podcast outlining some of its analysis into consumer and wholesale markets, our thinking on consumer marketing and some of the ways that the lockdown has affected AHDB’s services to the industry. In this episode you will hear, among others, from Dr Sophie Churchill, chair of the Potato Board, who will offer an overview of the work that’s underway to support the British potato industry.
Didier Andrivon from INRA directs our thoughts to potato and tomato blights in Europe and argues that multi-actor research is crucial for sustainable control. Controlling blight epidemics have long relied almost exclusively on repeated applications of synthetic fungicides. It is not uncommon for potato crops to receive 15 or 20 sprays a season to keep blights at bay. However, this strategy while efficient, is not sustainable.
A lottery winner has given out thousands of potatoes from her farm to help deal with food shortages caused by coronavirus panic-buying, the BBC reports. Susan Herdman, 51, hand-picked the vegetables before giving them free of charge to people in North Yorkshire. “Hopefully it proves that farmers aren’t that tight,” she told the BBC.,
Controlling late blight (Phytophthora infestans) in potatoes has become much more complicated. Growers and agronomists have to think about many factors, including disease pressure, blight strains, growth stage of the crop, weather conditions, fungicide mode of action, and many more. Blight strains in the UK have changed radically recently and Dr. David Cooke of the James Hutton Institute in Dundee has identified newer strains which are more aggressive, produce more spores from larger lesions and have a faster life cycle.
Scottish potato production continues to thrive in the current crisis, but with a collapse in the food service sector, fresh market suppliers could face increased competition from the processing market who are looking for a space on the shelves.
Dublin-based fresh food business Country Crest has extended its contract to supply potatoes and onions to Tesco in a €62.5 million deal over the next 2½ years. The family-owned company, run by brothers Gabriel and Michael Hoey, has signed a deal to supply the supermarket chain with 36,000 tonnes annually of own-brand potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes until September 2022. Country Crest also[Read More…]
Belgium’s potato industry is asking for the goverment to chip in and help it survive the coronavirus lockdown. While the country is well-known for its fries, the industry has few clients at home. On average, 90 per cent of potatoes are exported. But with travel bans and restaurants closed around the world, the food supply chain has been disrupted.
The coronavirus outbreak has completely shifted market dynamics for potatoes and has brought about many storage-related questions as a result. Read AHDB’s storage FAQs for some answers.
A new protocol for estimating the determinacy – how crops utilise fertilisers – of potato varieties will be released in the next few months and will be added to the AHDB’s Nutrient Management Guide (RB209). This should help breeders and those involved in variety development, save time and money when producing nitrogen recommendations for new varieties. From this, growers and agronomists will gain more accurate nitrogen/determinacy groupings for both new and existing cultivars, and thus fine-tune the N rates applied to crops.
March was a month unlike any seen before in food retail in Britain. Drastic changes to how we live our lives have driven changes in shopping behaviour that left grocery retailers scrambling to adapt. As the dust settles, AHDB takes a look at what happened in a month we’re unlikely to forget. Fresh potato sales in the latest 4 week period have exceeded even the usual peak seen at Christmas.
Last year, despite the difficult growing conditions as a result of the extreme heat and drought during both the 2018-2019 and the 2019-2020 seasons, the Belgian potato-processing industry once again improved the record for processed potatoes. Almost 5.3 million tonnes of potatoes processed into fries, mashed potato products, crisps, flakes and granules or precooked potatoes meant an increase of 3.8% compared to the figures for 2018.
UK-based farm producer of hand-cooked crisps delivers to frontline hospital staff, provides national free delivery service
Artisan crisp maker, Fairfields Farm, made a delivery of 480 bags of its hand-cooked crisps to Colchester Hospital this week, giving doctors a nurses a welcome treat as they tackle Covid-19 on the front line. The business, which produces potatoes and hand-cooked crisps on its farm in Colchester, wanted to do something to thank the team at its local hospital[Read More…]
Last week AHDB Potatoes advised potato growers on the various levels of Chlorpropham (CIPC) allowable in various sectors of the potato market. As part of AHDB’s work with NFU, PPA, FPSA and others, the organization says that it is pleased to report now that today (9 April) the Potato Industry CIPC Stewardship Group (PICSG) announced much needed amendments.
Potato planting decisions for British farmers are being complicated by uncertainty over the length of the coronavirus lockdown and an overhang of processing material since restaurants, canteens and other food service outlets were shut down, Suzie Horne writes in Farmers Weekly. The lockdown would have a direct effect on the processing sector and an influence on others, said Nick Blake, director with consultant Andersons Eastern.
A pandemic forcing everyone to stay home could be the perfect moment for online grocery services. In practice, they’ve been struggling to keep up with a surge in orders, highlighting their limited ability to respond to an unprecedented onslaught of demand. Instacart, a platform that partners with more than 25,000 stores in North America, says orders in more recent weeks have surged 150 percent. In Britain, CEO Melanie Smith e-mailed customers to tell them demand spiked to 10 times the normal level.
The “Nederlandse Aardappel Organisatie” (NAO) expressed their support for their members who are dealing with unforeseen challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. On their website NAO acknowledges there are companies that cannot cope with the work, for example in the table potato market, while in the catering market, demand has completely disappeared and companies are therefore partly stalling. As much as 90% of the demand in the processing industry has suddenly disappeared.
In this very insightful article by Steven Evans, Senior Consumer Insight Manager at AHDB in the UK, the author analyzes how Covid-19 has changed our eating habits, using estimates from Kantar Worldpanel that look at the potential rise per week of meals consumed during lockdown. These predictions relate to the current hard lockdown scenario faced by consumers, and depending on how stringently lockdown measures are enforced, we can expect to see a range of changes for a prolonged period.
TOMRA Food announces that it is leveraging digital technology to enable live demonstrations of its sorting solutions. It has developed virtual demonstration capability to take the TOMRA Test and Demonstration Centers to participants’ home offices. They will be able to book interactive sessions with the Centers in Leuven, Belgium, Xiamen, China, and Sacramento, USA. With the new TOMRA Virtual Demonstration Centers, participants will be able to test the sorting solutions they are considering and make an informed purchase decision.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has dealt a blow to a particularly Belgian market, as the country begins to see declining sales of the humble fries, reports Jules Johnston in The Brussels Times. “Our fries production is partly at a standstill. We will continue to make the other potato specialities, but at a slower pace because our employees have to work at a safe distance from each other,” said Philippe Debruyne, manager of potato processing company Aviko.
A Norfolk farmer is delivering sacks of potatoes to his most vulnerable or isolated neighbours in his spare time – part of an “incredible” community effort to keep food flowing into people’s homes during the coronavirus lockdown, writes Chris Hill in the Eastern Daily Press. Before his working day begins, he is driving out to deliver 12.5kg bags to those who need them most, within a five-mile radius of the farm.
Grampian Growers is a farmer owned cooperative based on the East coast of Scotland on the outskirts of Montrose, Angus. The cooperative is one of the UK’s leading growers, suppliers and distributors of seed potatoes. Grampian recently released a short video about its Gemson baby potato variety. Grampian says on its website that Gemson has gone from strength to strength in the expanding baby potato sector since its commercial release in 2007. Gemson is renowned for producing exceptional small, white, round and bright tubers, perfect for the packing industry.