Potato farmers are warning that growers will walk away from the industry as cost pressures make the staple crop unviable in Australia. “When farmers were getting 80 to 90 cents a kilo for potatoes, they were about $4 at the supermarket. Now, they’re getting 40 to 50 cents a kilo and they’re still about $4 at the supermarket,” says Tony Galati, a potato grower, washpacker and retailer.
New Zealand, Australia
Nelson based Proper Crisps is branching out across the ditch – the company has opened a factory in Australia after chip sales there doubled in 2021. Based in the Yarra Valley, near Melbourne, the factory did its first cooks for the 2022 season in the middle of March. Proper Crisps are New Zealand’s most awarded chip.
When New Zealand couple Colin and Donna Craig-Brown first discovered the gigantic vegetable in their garden last August, they knew they had something special on their hands. They decided to submit Dug to Guinness World Records, and they received some depressing news. Sadly the specimen is not a potato and is in fact the tuber of a type of gourd.
New Zealand’s potato Centre of Excellence to be grower-centric, identify problems and devise solutions
The board of Potatoes NZ Inc. (PNZ) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Lincoln University to launch a research partnership which includes a Centre of Excellence for Potato Research and Extension, based in Canterbury. The research conducted at the Centre will be focused on working with potato growers to identify and understand the problems confronting them and to devise solutions to those problems.
Australians are consuming more potatoes than ever before according to new data. As Megan Hughes reports for ABC Rural, statistics from research and development organisation Hort Innovation shows 87 per cent of Australian households bought potatoes at the supermarket, taking home an average of 1.7 kilograms per shopping trip.
A massive Kiwi potato that is in the running to claim a world record has gone viral after the man who found it gave a hilarious interview to British TV. Waikato man Colin Craig-Brown in New Zealand spoke to former NZ broadcaster Philip Schofield on his popular This Morning breakfast show about the trials and tribulations of securing official recognition for his giant potato.
AUSVEG, and its State Member AUSVEG VIC, are monitoring the situation on-the-ground in Ballarat following reports that recent storms and wet weather have impacted much of the region’s potato crop. The region is an important supplier of potatoes, particularly for the processing industry. AUSVEG is reaching out to local growers to better understand the extent of the damage.
There are fears of a potato shortage after wild weather lashed the Ballarat region in Australia last week, causing millions of dollars of damage to crops. Clarkes Hill potato farmer of 40 years, Rodney Guthrie, says his area endured hail and 150mm of rain. 3aw.com.au spoke to Mr Guthrie.
Up to 95 per cent of the potato crops in the Ballarat agricultural district have been damaged by storms last week, as the state braces for more wild weather. As Jane McNaughton reports for ABC Rural, some farmers in the region were reporting more than 200 millimetres of rain from the weather event. Ballarat Potato Growers Association chairman Chris Stephens said hail defoliated juvenile crops, which were already delayed due to the wet and cold summer.
Wyma Solutions announced recently that it has won the 2021 Kordia Champion Producer/Manufacturer award in New Zealand. The award is a recognition of Wyma’s ongoing commitment to meeting the challenges and needs of the industry and the company’s customers, and is one of the Westpac Champion Business Awards. “Getting closer to our customers and understanding their unique environments and challenges is key to our success,” commented Andrew Barclay, Managing Director of Wyma Engineering (NZ) Ltd.
The New Zealand potato industry saw supply chain disruptions, changing protocols for health and safety and a polarization of political and health ideologies in the last 21 months of the pandemic response, the industry body says in a recent newsletter. NZ potato growers across the country have been under immense pressure during 2021, but shows continued value growth despite pandemic setbacks in the export market, thanks to a strong domestic market.
Fertiliser prices have soared, the cost of farming equipment has gone up and unrelenting rain means the potato season is behind schedule. As Meg Powell reports for The Advocate, Tasmania could be in for a potato shortage, growers have warned.
Wet weather and rising fertiliser prices are forcing farmers to rethink their potato plantings, with tonnages expected to be down significantly in the upcoming season. Former McCain grower representative and seed potato grower Beau Gooch said it was becoming significantly more expensive to grow potatoes. Leigh Elphinstone, Simplot Growers Committee chair and north-west potato grower, said the weather and fertiliser hurdles could result in a potato shortage.
McCain Foods Tasmania installs Pulsemaster PEF-tech innovation, reduces water use by more than 100,000 litres per day
McCain Foods has installed proprietary world-leading technology in the form of a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) generator, as part of the company’s latest upgrade to its Smithton plant in Tasmania. The plant has reduced water usage this year by more than 100,000 litres per day, and the PEF system will also save the plant approximately 276 tonnes of carbon each year, and around 33,000 gigajoules of energy due to the increased efficiency and reduced wastage.
“Plant cures” are the key to world-first research by a team of scientists at the University of Queensland (UQ), led by Professor David Craik. “We’re engineering plants into super-efficient producers of next-generation medicines,” Professor Craik said. “So we want to put molecules into, say, potatoes, so that effectively you can have your french fries and not worry about the consequences.”
University of Canterbury environmental science professor Brett Robinson in New Zealand is working on a research project that transforms biowaste into high-value products. Waste products from New Zealand’s food processing industry – such as potato scraps and grape skins – could be transformed into high-value soil conditioners and animal feed, according to new research.
The group that recently purchased the fast-growing Original Foods Baking Co. has announced today it has agreed to acquire iconic Australian desserts and baked goods brand Sara Lee from McCain Foods in Australia and New Zealand. The acquisition creates a strong partnership as both Sara Lee and the Original Foods Baking Co. have a long tradition of supplying Australasia with indulgent baked goods and desserts.
It’s a risky crop, but Sisters Creek potato farmer Leigh Elphinstone in Tasmania wouldn’t have it any other way, reports Meg Powell in this news story for The Advocate. And the multi-generational farmer’s passion for the simple spud seems to have paid off, helping secure growers like himself an additional $9 a tonne deal with major food manufacturer Simplot over the coming financial year.
The New Zealand potato industry remains a billion-dollar-plus industry despite a year of crises, and a disappointing Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment tariff report. Chris Claridge, CEO of Potatoes New Zealand says the result shows “the immense value of our processing sector”. “Fifty-five per cent of our locally grown potatoes produce fries and another 12 per cent produce crisps,” he says.
It takes 120 days from planting to harvesting to create a product that can be consumed within minutes, but the journey of these spuds stretches back even further. Farmer Jason Menegazzo’s family has been growing potatoes for 50 years, and for the past two decades have been solely supplying The Smith’s Snackfood Company. Introduced from England in 1931, the Smith’s brand now celebrates 90 years of manufacturing in Australia.
Red Rock Deli in Australia and New Zealand has teamed up with Colin Fassnidge, using his culinary creativity to inspire three new, restaurant quality flavours as part of Red Rock Deli Chef Series range. Colin has a famous philosophy with food, creating rich flavours and always pushing the boundaries. PepsiCo Australia & New Zealand’s Hind Simhairi, Senior Brand Manager, said the collaboration with Colin was a natural fit.
The Australian potato industry has a new extension and communication project. The new PotatoLink intitiative (inlcuding a website and accompanying magazine) aim to help growers improve quality, maintain yield and find efficiencies through best practice resources, targeted training, relevant field days and regular clear, comprehensive information.
McCain Foods has released its sustainability strategy that centres on a global commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent and move out of coal to renewable electricity by 2030. Agriculture Director for Australia and New Zealand, Rod McLaren, said he was excited the company was going green. “The spotlight has been put squarely on the challenges being posed by climate change and our fragile global food systems,” he said.
They might look like small, purple potatoes, but “taewa” are so much more. Taewa come in every shape, and a multitude of colours. There are taewa with dark brown skins and purple inside; pale white inside, and golden yellow outside; maroon red skins, and orange inside. They’re similar, but also quite different, to what you’d find piled at most supermarkets in New Zealand.
If you’ve been on the land for four generations already, you want to make sure you keep it going for the next one. In southern Victoria, Blowhard potato farmer Gary Crick is making sure he’s using the most sustainable practices so his farm can stay competitive, and to leave a strong legacy for his son, writes Alex Ford in this article published in The Transcontinental.
McCain Foods has installed its proprietary world-leading, technology in the form of a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) generator, as part of the company’s latest upgrade to its Smithton plant in Tasmania, Australia. The PEF generator is another example of McCain’s commitment to producing more with less, as the $1.8 million project, which incorporates McCain’s proprietary technology, results in potatoes being pulsed with an electric field rather than steamed, slashing the plant’s energy and water usage.
It is with a heavy heart that the World Potato Congress has learned of the passing of former World Potato Congress Director and International Advisor, Ron Gall. President Romain Cools stated: “Ron was dedicated to the potato industry and in helping to make the World Potato Congress Inc. the world renowned organization that it is today. After 13 years of involvement with the World Potato Congress Inc., seven as an International Advisor and six as a Director, his commitment and loyalty to WPC will be long remembered.