New Zealand, Australia

Great Wrap: Compostable bioplastic clingfilm made from waste potato peels

Australian biomaterials company Great Wrap has created a compostable bioplastic alternative to clingfilm that is made from waste potatoes. Great Wrap film consists of starch extracted from potato peels mixed with other ingredients including used cooking oil and a starchy root vegetable called cassava. The Great Wrap clingfilm can be composted in landfills or home composting systems, where it will break down within 180 days.

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Fact sheet: Managing blackleg in potatoes

This fact sheet on blackleg in potatoes was compiled by Hort Innovation and RM Consulting Group (RMCG) in Australia, and published online by AUSVEG. It provides information on management strategies of blackleg, the bacteria which commonly cause the disease, and what growers can do to prevent and manage it.

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Thai promise for Australian potatoes

Australia’s potato industry has welcomed to two key commitments realised under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which are set to improve access to the Thai market. Thailand has now implemented zero tariffs and removed tariff rate quotas that limited the volume of Australian seed and processing potatoes that could access the lower TAFTA tariff.

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Australia: Ballarat potato growers ask McCain for 78 per cent price increase

Potato farmers in the Ballarat region of Australia are demanding a pay rise for their produce, claiming McCain Foods does not pay a fair price. Last season McCain Foods paid growers an average of 33 cents per kilo of potatoes delivered to the local processing plant, a figure that farmers said was well below the rising cost of production. The local growers’ association had approached the processor on Monday asking for 59 cents per kilo, a 78 per cent price increase.

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Tasmanian potato growers start ditching spuds after stalemate on price negotiations with Simplot

Potato processor Simplot Australia has refused to budge on its second price offer to Tasmanian farmers for their potato crop this season, according to a report by Fiona Breen and Tony Briscoe for ABC Rural news. Farmers say the extra $105 a tonne the company put forward three weeks ago is still not enough to cover the cost of growing their crop this season, estimated to be about $20,000 a hectare. Simplot said it collectively considered every cost its growers incurred.

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Farmers struggling to make ends meet: Simplot and Tasmanian spud farmers in standoff over rising prices

Farmers have rejected a second price offer made by food manufacturer Simplot for their potato crop this season. They say the extra $105 a tonne the company has put forward is still not enough to cover the cost of growing their crop this season, which is around $20,000 a hectare. As Laurissa Smith and Fiona Breen report for ABC Rural, Sassafras farmer and contractor Scott Rockliff said inputs including fuel and fertiliser were spiralling. Farmers said they were thinking about other options, whether it be more sheep or cattle or other crops.

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Australia’s ‘Great Wrap’ founders raise $24 million to take on plastic waste

Figuring out how to turn potato waste into compostable cling wrap has helped Julia and Jordy Kay, founders and owners of the Great Wrap company, land $24 million in series A funding to take on the plastic industry. Mrs Kay, an architect, and Mr Kay, who makes natural wines, decided to tackle the plastic waste problem after noticing how much pallet wrap was generated in construction and winemaking.

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Australian farmers warn of 30 per cent potato price rise

A 4kg bag of humble potatoes is set to join iceberg lettuce in the $12 club at Australian supermarkets in coming weeks as farmers warn of a potential 30 per cent price rise. And with a price hike in potatoes comes a jump in the price of Australian’s beloved hot chips, with rises expected at restaurants, fish and chip shops, fast-food chains and pubs.

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McCain switching from coal to woodchips to make potato chips in New Zealand

A $5.6 million project to eliminate CO2 emissions and reduce demand for heating fuel at McCain’s Timaru factory in New Zealand will soon use woodchips to make potato chips. As Yashas Srinivasa reports for Stuff.co.nz, the company is converting its boiler from coal to domestically sourced woodchips, which will help McCain reduce its carbon emissions by approximately 30,000 tonnes per year.

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Australian potato farmers ‘doing it for nothing’ warn of mass exodus amid stagnant prices

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.

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They thought they found the world’s largest potato. A DNA test proved otherwise

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.

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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.

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Potato consumption soars as Australians embrace the humble spud

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.

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‘Doug the spud’: Kiwi with giant potato goes viral in UK after hilarious interview

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.

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AUSVEG working with potato growers to monitor Ballarat storm aftermath

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.

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‘A kick in the guts’: Ballarat’s potato crops severely damaged by extreme weather

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.

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Wyma wins prestigious award

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.

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Potatoes NZ building a ‘secure and sustainable industry’: 2021 in summary

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.

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Wet weather, rising fertiliser prices put squeeze on Tasmanian potato growers

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.

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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.

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Australian researchers study whether ‘plant medicines’ could help treat cancer, obesity

“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.”

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