Europe, UK, Ireland

TOMRA Food revolutionizes food processing with AI-driven solutions and new organizational structure

TOMRA Food announced an agile new structure and three AI-powered sorting and grading solutions at Fruit Logistica in Berlin. With an increased focus on customer proximity and innovation, the reorganized company combines its processed and fresh food sectors into unified regional teams (EMEA, Americas, APAC), supported by a central hub for R&D and operations. The new AI technologies promise unparalleled accuracy in grading, aiming to boost productivity and minimize waste.

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EU faces dire potato seed supply challenges for 2024 growing season, prices soar

The EU faces a challenging 2024 for potato cultivation with a seed shortage due to a 10,000-hectare decrease in seed-producing areas. reports average yields and larger seeds with fewer tubers, compounded by viral issues and poor harvests due to rains. Seed prices are rising sharply, affecting all potato sectors. Producers may need to look for seeds outside traditional channels, while industry-wide efforts are needed to stabilize seed cultivation for sustainability.

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Irish and European potato markets: Resilience in the face of rising costs, tight supplies and seed scarcity

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that the Irish potato market remains strong despite rising costs and seed scarcity, with sustained demand in home consumption, retail, and food service sectors. Irish potato farmers are grappling with the dual pressures of rising costs and limited availability of seed potatoes. This situation is is a reflection of a broader European trend. Tight supplies across the continent have led to a significant increase in costs, putting additional financial strain on farmers.

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Von der Leyen withdraws contentious pesticide law amid right-wing backlash and farmer protests

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has repealed the Sustainable Use Regulation, a law aimed at cutting EU pesticide use by half by 2030 and banning them in sensitive areas. The withdrawal represents the Green Deal’s first setback. In her speech, she acknowledged the challenges faced by farmers but emphasized the need for a more sustainable model of production amidst climate and economic crises.

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Challenging times for European potato growers: NEPG reports significant losses and uncertain future

The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) reports substantial losses for potato growers in 2023 due to poor weather and high costs, with 11,000 hectares and 650,000 tonnes affected. Despite this, global harvest rose by 5.1%, with varying regional impacts. Growers struggle with production costs, risks, and certified seed shortages, while processing demand remains high. This leaves the sector under stress, seeking a balance between supply and challenging conditions.

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EU faces pressure to defuse mounting anger as farmers protest across Europe

Europe’s farmers are protesting against what they consider are unfair and contradictory policies, disrupting daily life with demonstrations across France, Germany, Romania, and Bulgaria due to the climate crisis and policy responses. Protests escalated after a tragic accident in France and are poised to continue with potential nationwide action, expressing long-term frustration over environmental policy applications and subsidy removals.

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Europatat Congress 2024: Shaping the future of the potato industry in Brussels

The Europatat Congress returns to Brussels on May 23-24, 2024, focusing on “European Potato Trade in 2030: a sector in transition.” Industry leaders will discuss environmental, economic, and social challenges, and innovations within the sector. The agenda includes reviews, a General Assembly, and a public conference amid European elections, offering networking opportunities enriched by social events. Potato professionals will soon be able to register at the congress website.

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Record-high potato prices in Ukraine: Causes, impacts, and industry outlook

Ukraine’s potato industry is experiencing a severe price surge, with costs up to four times compared to last year’s. A shortage of quality potatoes due to lower yields is driving this spike as the season ends. Consequently, imports, especially from Poland, are increasing to meet demand, affecting Polish market prices as well. This creates critical challenges and opportunities within the industry, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning and global collaboration.

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Resilient Irish potato market navigates harsh weather, shortfall reported in European potato supplies

The Irish Farmers Association reports a rise in potato sales due to their economic value in the cost-of-living crisis. Despite tough harvesting, consumption has increased, with the UK and Northern Europe facing supply challenges. Potential losses in Europe could lead to 800,000 tonnes of potatoes being lost, prompting interest in imports to cover deficits in spring. This situation offers both obstacles and prospects for the potato industry.

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HarvestEye’s groundbreaking insights tool with expanded crop compatibility to be unveiled at Fruit Logistica 2024

HarvestEye will exhibit its crop insights tool at Fruit Logistica, offering the fresh produce sector a method to assess crops’ size and variety via its updated system compatible with onions and potatoes. The technology includes a new handheld device for pre-harvest analysis. Growers can lease or rent units, gaining actionable AI insights to enhance supply chain efficiency and reduce waste.

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‘Scarecrows’ protest outside UK Parliament as MP’s debate supermarkets’ treatment of farmers

British farmers, represented by Riverford Organic’s petition-backed protest featuring scarecrows outside Parliament, request MPs to enact stronger protections against the “big six” supermarkets’ buying practices. With 49% of farmers at risk of going out of business within a year, they urge for reforms in the grocery supply code. The debate follows as over 110,000 people advocate for a grocery industry overhaul.

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Dundee hosts major UK potato industry conference: A focus on resilience and innovation

Over 150 UK potato producers will convene at the SACAPP conference in Dundee, hosted by SRUC, to discuss industry resilience, innovation, and challenges such as PCN. Keynote speakers, including industry experts and a Nuffield Scholar, will share insights, with Scotland’s Chief Plant Health Officer closing the event. Held on January 24 at the Apex City Quay Hotel, the conference offers networking and workshops, with free entry for SACAPP members and ticketed entry for others.

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Resilience in the fields: Dutch farmers struggle through extreme weather challenges

Dutch farmers struggle with climate-change-induced extreme weather, leading to crop losses, especially potatoes, carrots, and sugar beets. Wageningen University research focuses on mitigating the effects of severe weather on soil and crop health. Strategies under exploration include utilizing lighter farming machinery and breeding resilient crop varieties. Challenges extend to spring-flowering bulbs, with efforts underway to manage water levels effectively. The university emphasizes the urgency of developing adaptive agricultural practices and crop varieties resistant to extreme conditions.

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European farmers’ unrest escalates: A panoramic view of protests across the continent

European farmers are protesting en masse against restrictive agricultural policies and economic struggles. France sees potential nationwide action over new taxes and regulations, while German farmers block Berlin, rejecting cuts to fuel subsidies. In Romania, farmers demand quicker subsidy payments and compensation. The EU offers a €500m aid package, but discontent persists, pressuring governments to reconsider their agricultural policies as widespread disruption and dissatisfaction among farmers grow.

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Albert Bartlett ‘in talks’ to purchase the Jersey Royal Company

The BBC reports that Albert Bartlett is in talks to buy The Jersey Royal Company from Produce Investments. A renowned potato supplier with extensive farming operations, Albert Bartlett has been associated with Jersey potatoes for generations and has infrastructure on the island since 2008. The Jersey Royal Company has specialized in these potatoes for over two decades.

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Irish potato market thrives amidst cold weather, European markets show mixed trends

During the cold wave in Ireland, potato sales are on the rise, as reported by the Irish Farmers Association. Despite a tough harvest reducing yields, demand and prices for quality potatoes remain steady. Across Europe, with 15,000 hectares still unharvested, the market shows strength and a trend towards higher prices. Exports are reviving, especially towards the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, indicating growth potential in international markets.

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Diverse cover crops a key strategy in British grower’s regenerative approach

In a recent discussion at Groundswell, agronomist Ed Brown, head of agroecology at Hutchinson’s in the UK, and East Shropshire grower John Bubb showcased the potential of growing potatoes regeneratively, focusing on good soil analysis and careful management. On Bubb’s 2,000-acre farm, they integrate soil health with crop diversity to maintain yields and cut inputs. Techniques include diverse cover crops, reduced tillage, with pest control also a focus.

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Emerging threat: WUR spearheads €7 million project to address rising plant-parasitic nematodes in Europe

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in the Netherlands is leading a 7 million euros-funded research project called NEM-EMERGE, focusing on the increasing threat of root-knot and cyst nematodes to potato and tomato crops due to climate change and genetic selection. The project aims to map the distribution of nematodes, understand resistance gene instability, develop practical solutions, and promote collaboration for sustainable agriculture.

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From dormancy to sprouting: New study offers insights into physiological aging and storage conditions of potatoes

A study conducted by scientists at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands focuses on developing a model to quantify the physiological aging of potato seed tubers, considering the effects of storage conditions and growth history of different potato varieties. The research reveals that storage temperatures significantly impact the physiological age of the tubers, leading to the development of a novel mathematical model. Practical applications include optimizing storage conditions and enhancing crop production.

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UK’s Health and Safety Executive proposes withdrawal of mancozeb approval, impacting agricultural practices

The Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain has proposed the withdrawal of the widely used pesticide mancozeb. This decision, expected to impact agricultural practices, may lead to changes in mancozeb’s use. Despite the proposed withdrawal, efforts are underway to explore options for maintaining its availability in the UK market. The approval is set to expire on 31st January 2024, with a possible interim extension.

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Germany: Farmers’ protest causes nationwide disruption

German farmers are enraged by the government’s plan to reduce agricultural subsidies, leading to nationwide protests and anticipated road blockades. The government insists on maintaining the subsidy cuts despite the uproar. The demonstrations have disrupted production at a Volkswagen factory, prompting calls from Economy Minister Robert Habeck for a reevaluation of the agricultural sector’s challenges. The protests highlight the pressures faced by farmers from various economic forces.

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Persistent wet weather taking its toll on UK farmers

Farmers and landowners in the UK are warned of potential flooding as Storm Henk brings heavy rain. The persistently wet weather has caused further damage to crops and farmland, following previous storms. The Environment Agency has issued 129 flood warnings and 294 flood alerts for England, while Natural Resources Wales and Scotland have also issued warnings and alerts.

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PepsiCo products pulled from some Carrefour grocery stores in Europe over price increases

Carrefour supermarkets in France have ceased selling PepsiCo products due to price hikes. The ban will extend to Belgium, Spain, and Italy. Carrefour cited “unacceptable price increases” for popular items like Lay’s chips. PepsiCo, which has raised prices by double-digit percentages for seven consecutive quarters, stated it is in discussions with Carrefour. The French grocery chain has not specified when the ban will take effect in the other countries.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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