North America

Potatoes will remain classified as a vegetable, not a grain, senator says

Following protests, potatoes will remain classified as a vegetable, not a grain. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)reported receiving assurances from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, addressing concerns of misrepresentation regarding the health benefits of potatoes. This decision comes as the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee prepares its recommendations, affirming potatoes’ nutritional value and versatility in diets.

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‘Nothing into something’: Little potatoes turn into big success for Canadian company

The Little Potato Company, established in 1996 in Edmonton by Angela Santiago and her father, has expanded significantly, inaugurating a new $39.5 million, 420,000-square-foot facility in Nisku, Alberta. This plant can distribute up to 125 million pounds of potatoes annually and features sustainable technologies like solar panels and water recycling. This development highlights Alberta’s flourishing agricultural sector.

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Navigating the green future: The Sustainability Consortium launches free Commodity mapping platform

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) has launched CommodityMap, a cloud-based platform that utilizes geospatial analytics to enhance sustainability in agricultural supply chains. This free, public tool provides insights, simplifies data collection with a proprietary model, and delivers science-based recommendations to improve supply chains. Supported by the Walmart Foundation, CommodityMap reflects TSC’s commitment to practical sustainability solutions, aiming to foster transparency and facilitate stakeholder collaboration towards a more sustainable consumer goods industry.

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A reduced fertilizer future? AAFC’s latest Plowdown Challenge explores manure’s potential in potato farming

When Scott Anderson and Roger Henry from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) launched the AAFC Plowdown Challenge last year, they aimed to engage farmers in guessing the yield of the Mountain Gem potato variety grown without fertilizer, using manure instead. After a successful year, they introduced a new twist with manure to potentially enhance soil benefits this year. The challenge demonstrates alternative sustainable farming by utilizing residual soil nutrients.

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IPC strengthens retail relations with new hire Matt Zapczynski in Northeast/Midwest

Matt Zapczynski has been appointed as the new Retail Promotion Director for the Northeast and Midwest regions by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). With extensive experience in retail and wholesale within the produce sector, Zapczynski is celebrated for his dedication to continual learning and leadership skills. His background includes roles at The Giant Co. and Merchants Distributors LLC. Zapczynski brings a profound embrace of market challenges and customer engagement to his new role at IPC.

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Pioneering study highlights need for climate-resilient potato cultivars amidst global warming

A study by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, published in Frontiers in Plant Science, reveals significant challenges potato cultivation faces due to climate change. The research team underscores the importance of developing stress-tolerant potato varieties to maintain global food security amid rising temperatures, drought, and increased pest incidences. The study includes advancements in understanding potato plants’ molecular responses to environmental stress, critical for breeding resilient cultivars.

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Message on a spud: The rise of Potato Parcel and other startups that challenge conventional wisdom

An article by Veeksha Dechamma in Jumpstart discusses five unconventional startups that challenge traditional business ideas, highlighting Potato Parcel as an example. Founded in 2015, this company lets customers send messages on potatoes, an idea that gained traction after featuring on Shark Tank. Potato Parcel, now worth US$1.75 million, offers various customizable options and encourages recipients to plant the potatoes they receive.

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Global flavors, local tastes: The creative twist on McDonald’s fries around the world

Fast food in America is known for its consistency, but McDonald’s international outlets offer a delightful array of variations, particularly with French fries. McDonald’s adapts to global tastes, resulting in unique offerings like gravy-loaded fries in Australia and sweet corn-seasoned fries in the Philippines. With over 38,000 locations, the company ensures local flavors meet the iconic McDonald’s experience, making their fries not just famous but culturally versatile too.

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RPE exhibits for the first time at CPMA, ushering in a new era for potato retail solutions in Canada

RPE LLC., a North American potato industry leader, exhibited its extensive range of products at CPMA in Vancouver, including their Tasteful Selections and Farmer’s Promise brands. Highlighting its role as a year-round supplier of high-quality potatoes and onions, RPE showcased innovations such as Potatoes Your Way and a variety of packaging solutions emphasizing sustainability and local sourcing. The company also discussed expanding its Canadian supply capabilities, offering more diversity and efficiency in the supply chain to Canadian retailers.

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New study reveals the complex drivers and barriers affecting best management practices among potato producers

A comprehensive study from the University of Guelph and SunRISE Potato reveals motivators and barriers in adopting best management practices (BMPs) among Ontario’s potato producers. Enhanced by a System Thinking approach, the research indicates that personal values largely drive adoption, yet structural challenges like market access and stringent regulations hinder it. Insights from this study can inform targeted strategies to improve BMP adoption and enhance sustainable agriculture.

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Cutting-edge strategies in potato pest and disease defense: Insights from the 2024 Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting

The 2024 Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting offered crucial insights into combating pest and disease challenges in potato cultivation. With presentations on bacterial pathogens, innovative fungicidal treatments, diagnostic tools for disease identification, and the potential of chemigation, the meeting emphasized new strategies to enhance sustainability and productivity in the industry. Dr. Jeff Millar’s sessions highlighted emerging research and practical applications that could transform pest and disease management, ensuring the continuous improvement of the sector.

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Canadian potato landscape: Record stocks and regional disparities define the market

The United Potato Growers of Canada reported that potato holdings in April 2023 increased by 12.5% from the previous year, totaling 52,393,000 cwt. Stocks are higher than the five-year average, with significant amounts in western provinces, especially in processing. Quebec and Maritime regions saw lower stocks due to a rainy season. Processing sector stocks surged by 24% due to record production. Meanwhile, overall seed sector stocks are slightly down by 5.6%.

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Iconic figure in the potato processing industry, Davis Christensen, retires from Idaho Steel Products and Reyco Systems

Davis Christensen retires after transforming the potato processing industry with Idaho Steel Products and Reyco Systems. Instrumental in their success, he upheld a family tradition of excellence and forged strong customer ties. Highly regarded for his dedication and foresight, Christensen joins the Board and celebrates his son Jon’s ascent to Vice President. The company thanks Davis for his legacy and wishes him well in retirement.

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The subtle science of potassium application: Enhancing potato quality without compromising yield

Sarah Light and her team studied how potassium chloride application timing affects potatoes, finding that fall applications don’t increase plant chloride and may reduce chloride accumulation since it leaches below the root zone. Their research indicates no significant impact on nitrogen levels, yield, or tuber specific gravity, regardless of fertilizer timing. The study, funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, contributes to optimizing fertilizer use in agriculture.

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Unveiling the layers of regenerative agriculture: Promises and challenges

Regenerative agriculture, focusing on soil health and reduced synthetic input reliance through diverse cover crops, is gaining attention. Andrew McGuire of CSANR critically analyzes its principles and claims in his article, distinguishing it from sustainable agriculture. Its promise and practicality are debated, with success stories tempered by research on widespread implementability. McGuire is inspired by Gabe Brown, a prominent figure in the movement.

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Breaking ground in biofumigation: A new mustard hybrid offers natural disease control hope to potato growers

The potato industry in Canada could majorly benefit from AAC Guard, a new mustard hybrid acting as an effective biofumigant against verticillium wilt and nematodes. As chemical pesticides face deregistration, this natural solution, born of conventional breeding by Mustard 21 Canada and partners, offers an alternative. Its high glucosinolate levels are key in suppressing various pathogens. Though limited in 2024, increased seed availability is anticipated for 2025, promising a sustainable disease management strategy.

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‘A fry above the rest’: McCain Foods celebrated as McDonald’s Top Global Supplier of 2024

At the 2024 Worldwide Convention, McCain Foods was awarded McDonald’s Global Supplier of the Year out of over 3,000 suppliers for outstanding food safety, quality, sustainability, and supply chain innovation. Celebrating a partnership since 1977, this accolade commends their shared standards in global food service and commitment to excellence. McCain’s dedication to sustainable potato supply and enhancing McDonald’s offerings is recognized, promising future innovations in the fast-food sector.

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Senators want more access to Japan for U.S. fresh potatoes

During Japanese Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to the U.S., a bipartisan group of senators urged President Biden to pressure Japan for U.S. fresh potato market access. National Potato Council’s CEO noted a heightened push over the past five years, despite Japan’s inaction. Senators saw the visit as a chance to intensify negotiations, a goal pursued for over three decades.

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Study predicts significant future decline in potato yields on Prince Edward Island due to climate change

Researchers from the University of Prince Edward Island predict significant declines in potato yields due to climate change. Published in the journal Foods, the study forecasts a 6-10% decrease in yields under low-emission scenarios, and up to a 60% drop by the 2070s under high emissions, possibly reaching an 80% reduction by the 2090s. The study underlines temperature increases and variable precipitation as major factors affecting growth and urges the implementation of adaptation strategies.

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Win big this spring: The Little Potato Company debuts first-ever in-store and online sweepstakes

The Little Potato Company launches “The Little Springtime Campaign and Sweepstakes” with a chance to win $1,000 in groceries until May 15, 2024. Open to consumers in the U.S. and Canada, the campaign aims to promote its convenient, no-prep-required Little Potatoes. Supported by in-store, social media, and paid online ads, the initiative seeks to enhance family meals and highlight spring recipes.

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Potato Sustainability Alliance welcomes new member companies and grower associates

The Potato Sustainability Alliance has introduced a new Grower Associate category, and welcomed the Soil Health Institute, Walther Farms and DeGroot’s Vegetable Farms as members. PSA, having worked for 12 years on potato sustainability, provides a platform for all value chain actors to craft sustainability standards, and encourages more members to join at potatosustainability.org. The new members contribute efforts towards soil health and diversified vegetable farming.

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Prince Edward Island potato farmers gear up for planting season despite challenges

As spring nears, P.E.I. farmers in Canada prepare for planting amid challenges like erratic weather, high costs for fertilizer and fuel, and a shortage of skilled labor to handle advanced machinery, as reported by CBC’s Sheehan Desjardins. Rising supply costs and an uncertain climate impact planning, yet farmers are optimistic, diversifying crops, seeking alternatives to costly inputs, and training recruits to surmount these hurdles for a successful planting season.

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1,4GROUP reinforces North American potato industry: Shifts CIPC production to the U.S.

1,4GROUP has relocated chlorpropham production to the US following its European ban, ensuring supply for North American customers. The EPA and PMRA have approved the new US production site, maintaining the availability of this crucial sprout inhibitor. CEO Elfering expresses gratitude to the agencies and reaffirms commitment to quality products for the potato industry.

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Kayla Spawton spearheads groundbreaking work at U of I’s state-of-the-art seed potato facility

Kayla Spawton leads the University of Idaho’s Seed Potato Germplasm Program, critical to Idaho’s key industry, with 60% of U.S. potatoes traceable back to their lab. The state’s largest crop earned $1.3 billion in 2023. Spawton, a plant pathology Ph.D., manages a state-of-the-art facility, focusing on disease-free potato plantlet and mini-tuber production. Her plans include efficiency research and implementing cryogenic preservation to advance the program.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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