Exports of Irish potatoes continue to Portugal and Holland, with good appetite for more as stocks remain tight on the continent, according to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). Plantings have been halted across much of the U.K because of weather conditions. Remaining stocks in Eastern and Southern Europe are tight and are described as at an “all time low” and export to these areas remains strong.
Europe, UK, Ireland
Dutch processing potato usage highest in recent years
The February 2023 processing potato usage figures released by Vavi, the Dutch potato processors union, pegged February potato usage at 334 thousand tonnes, the highest figure for the month since 2017. The prices for processing potatoes continue to trend at multi-year highs, with the Mintec Benchmark Prices for processing potatoes EXW Netherlands assessed at €30/100kg on 21st March 2023, an increase of 53% compared to the same point last season.
‘Pick-ups for Peace’: Scottish potato farmers take convoy to Ukraine on aid mission
A group of Scottish potato farmers have sprouted a huge aid mission for Ukraine. The ‘Pick-ups for Peace’ initiative has already driven one convoy of 22 vehicles to the war torn country, where they were sprayed military green and sent to the front line. Organisers hope the initiative could end up supplying 1,000 vehicles.
Cracking the ‘dust dilemma’: Unraveling the causes and solutions for ‘dust formation’ in frozen fries production
If you’re involved in the potato processing industry, you might be familiar with the issue of “dusting” during the final frying of par-fried and frozen French fries. Recognized as a major quality concern, the industry is actively seeking solutions by adjusting processing parameters. A recent research program was developed to investigate this problem. R.G.M. van der Sman and Bjorn van den Oudenhoven examined dust formation by altering the standard processing of French fries and assessing the physical properties of the samples.
European associations express concern over proposed packaging waste regulation and its impact on fresh produce sector
Copa-Cogeca, Freshfel Europe and Europatat responded in a joint statement to the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste that was published on 30 November 2022. They strongly call for a revision of certain provisions, which would ban packaging for fruit and vegetables under 1.5kg.
Ireland: Intervention needed to prevent ‘mass exodus’ of Donegal potato farmers
Urgent intervention is needed in the farming sector to prevent a ‘max exodus’ of potato farmers, that’s according to Donegal’s IFA Potato Chairman, Donald Logue. Speaking on Highland Radio’s Nine ’til Noon Show yesterday, he said while the cost of production continues to rise, this is not reflected in the marketed prices of potatoes and called for Government to take action.
NEPG: An uncertain future for the potato industry in western Europe?
Potato growers in the north western European region face several challenges in the upcoming months, according to a news release issued by the North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) today. Certain developments in the current season have led to a seemingly uncertain future for the potato industry in western Europe, according to the NEPG. The industry organization represents Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France.
UK: East Anglia drought risk forces farmers to switch crops
East Anglian farmers are cutting back on “high-risk” irrigated crops like potatoes, onions and carrots this year in response to the growing threat of a second summer drought. The region is one of only two in the country still officially in drought – six months after last summer’s heatwave left farmers struggling to grow crops in parched fields.
Seed potato trials look to science for disease alternatives
Chemistry is fast disappearing from farming’s toolbox, but researchers and farmers are working together to trial and demonstrate alternative solutions to protect the high health status of Scotland’s seed potato industry, as Ken Fletcher, editor of The Scottish Farmer reports in this news story. Scottish Agronomy has been working with Jim Reid, of Milton of Mathers Farm, near St Cyrus, who has been involved with seed potato trials for over a decade.
Scientists pioneer new potato-powered building material for future home construction on Mars
University of Manchester scientists have created a new material, dubbed ‘StarCrete’ which is made from extra-terrestrial dust, dehydrated potatoes, and a pinch of salt – and it could be used in future to build homes on Mars, according to a news release issued by the University this week. StarCrete has a compressive strength over twice as strong as ordinary concrete. Starcrete made from moon dust is even stronger.
AVR announces several new upgrades to its Puma harvester
With the Puma 4.0 AVR introduced a robust, high-tech harvester. “On our journey to further perfect the Puma 4.0, we have provided the several upgrades for the 2023 Pumas,” the company recently announced in a press release. Some of these include a major software upgrade of the ACC digging unit’s depth control mechanism, and the AVR Comfort Drive, which is now standard on the 2023 Puma 4.0
Remach appointment strengthens Haith’s European presence
Haith Group has appointed Remach BV to represent it in Holland and Belgium. Duane Hill, Haith’s managing director, says the two companies have a great deal in common. Remach’s owner, Krijn van Groningen says his company is pleased to become the exclusive importer and dealer of Haith Group machinery for the Netherlands and Belgium.
Ireland: Minister opens €3.1 million investment aid scheme for seed and chipping potato sector
Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced the opening of the 2023 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Seed Potato and Chipping Potato Sector today. In addition to providing support for the seed potato sector, the scheme has been expanded in 2023 to include growers of Irish chipping potatoes.
Researchers pioneer new eco-friendly plastic alternative made from potato starch
The Spanish University of Alicante’s Waste, Energy, Environment and Nanotechnology (REMAN) research group has developed a process to obtain a water-soluble plastic material based on potato starch. It will soon be introduced on the market through the UA technology-based company Solublion. This new material is also compostable and biodegradable, so it is suitable for use as a flexible film, preferably in bags and packaging, and has great advantages over existing materials.
Commercial farming in Ireland ‘simply not viable’ this year, says IFA president
Many Irish potato farmers “will be forced out of business” unless the prices charged by farmers are increased, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association. As Robert Besser reports for Big News Network, Farmers’ Association president Tim Cullinan said commercial potato farming is “simply not viable” this year due to increased land rentals, fertilizer, fuel, and storage costs.
British farmers warn of potato and veg shortages later this year
Farmers are warning the food shortage crisis will get worse later in the year, due to the prolonged dry spell and a shrinkage of irrigated crop production, as Philip Case reports for Farmers Weekly. A combination of a lack of rainfall over the past eight months, rising input and energy costs and stagnant supermarket prices is forcing growers to cut back on crop production.
UK: Behind the scenes at Lancashire’s premier potato peddlers
Fresh Fylde and Fabulous in Greenhalgh is a potato-grower and manufacturer in Britain which produces some 1,000 tonnes of spuds every single week, supplying the UK food sector with potatoes for their chips, mash, fries, roasties, baked potatoes, rostis, crisps, hash browns, and the odd dauphinoise.
The ‘Windsor Framework’: Its impact on seed potatoes
On 27 February, the European Commission and the UK Government reached a political agreement in principle on the so-called Windsor Framework. Europatat says it welcomes this positive development and “we hope for a swift implementation of the new Framework”.
TOMRA Food offers flexible sorting solutions for Simplot’s french fry production line in Tasmania
Simplot sought a complete turnkey solution for their french fries production line in Tasmania. Fortunately, TOMRA Food offered sorting solutions that could be integrated with some of Simplot’s existing equipment. The sorting solutions offered by TOMRA Food enable Simplot to adjust their sorting procedures according to specific standards, ensuring they meet their customers’ targets while maintaining flexibility.
Researcher seeks input on factors influencing farmers’ adoption of Smart Farming Technology
Grainne Dilleen, a researcher at South East Technological University in Ireland, is conducting a Ph.D study to investigate the internal and external factors that influence farmers’ intention to adopt Smart Farming Technology (SFT). Specifically, she is interested in the role of trust in technology providers and the influence of the farmer’s network on the adoption decision. Grainne looks forward to hear from potato farmers worldwide.
‘WASTELESS’: Europatat participates in EU project to measure and monitor food waste
A new EU-funded project, WASTELESS, aims to develop tools and recommendations for measuring, monitoring and ultimately reducing food loss and food waste by at least 20% annually. The multidisciplinary consortium comprises 16 beneficiaries, 12 affiliated entities and 1 associated partner each from 14 countries. Europatat is proud to be part of this new project, the industry body says in a recent news post.
Newtec’s LASER FLOWPACK700: An innovative and sustainable packaging solution
Newtec recently announced that it will showcase its innovative LASER FLOWPACK700 packaging solution at the upcoming MacFrut event, taking place from May 3rd to May 5th at the Rimini Expo Centre in Italy. The machine is a state-of-the-art, fully automatic laser welding solution that is ideal for ultra-thin film packaging applications, including fruits and vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.
Boosting crop health with tailored nutrition and biologicals: Insights from a British potato grower
A Yorkshire farmer in Britain credits the use of tailored nutrition and some biologicals with boosting the overall health of his potato crop. Richard Smith farms 3,000 acres of combinable crops including 320ha of potatoes. “Biologicals have a part to play in general crop health – keeping them in the mix is important, it’s just vital that you understand where best to use them in your programme,” he says.
HZPC awarded Royal predicate on 125th anniversary: A recognition of its impact on the international potato industry
On Monday 27 February 2023, potato breeder HZPC celebrated its 125th anniversary. For HZPC, this was a day with an extra golden edge. Dr. A.A.M. Brok, Commissioner of the King of the Province of Friesland, also presented HZPC with the certificate for the predicate “Royal” on Monday afternoon in Joure. With the predicate Royal, HZPC has now become “Royal HZPC Group”, including the subsidiaries STET, HZPC, and ZOS.
‘Growing the Potato Crop’: Irish potato manual a ‘game changer’ for East African farmers
Irish international development agency Vita launched the book ‘Growing the Potato Crop’ by former Teagasc stalwart and renowned potato expert John Burke a few years ago. The book, which is expected to be a significant game changer for potato farmers in East Africa, focusses on improving potato productivity in sub Saharan Africa. Iverk Produce has uploaded the 395 page book as a pdf file on its website.
Registrations for the upcoming Europatat Congress now open
The next Europatat Congress will take place on 5, 6 and 7 June in Gdańsk, Poland. The congress will be hosted by the Polish Potato Federation. Europatat organises its Congress every year in a different European location. Registrations for the 2023 Congress is now open.
Tips for proper seed storage to ensure quality: Advice from a potato storage specialist
Adrian Cunnington of Potato Storage Insight warns that due to the unprecedented lack of certainty in the UK industry and delays in decision-making, there may potentially be a lot of short-term storage of seed this spring. Therefore, it is crucial not to compromise seed quality by being complacent about how it is handled, even for the shortest periods.
HZPC strengthens presence in China with new potato varieties and strong local partnerships
Ton Frijters has represented HZPC in China for many years, visiting numerous potato growers and experiencing the challenges of strict coronavirus measures in the country recently. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the future and is looking forward with enthusiasm to 2023. “The demand for HZPC varieties in China is continuously growing,” Ton affirms.
IFA: Energy Support Scheme to be extended for Irish farmers
The retail and food service sector trade remains buoyant, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its weekly potato market report. It was announced this week that the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme will be extended, to 31 May 2023, and enhanced, including by reducing the threshold for qualification from a 50% increase in electricity or gas costs to a 30% increase.