A Suffolk farmer is at the forefront of a promotional campaign by fast food giant McDonald’s highlighting its commitment to UK produce. Andrew Francis, who runs the farm operation at the Earl of Iveagh’s Elveden Estate near Thetford and supplies the chain with potatoes – features in a new Map My McDonald’s interactive tool which allows customers to see some of its army of 23,000 British and Irish farmer suppliers.
Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurants
Potato consumption has remained resilient in Britain over the past six months, despite closures in the foodservice market, according to figures released by AHDB. Strong retail sales led to an overall 12% volume increase for potatoes in the six months to 9 August, according to AHDB estimates based on Kantar data. Over the 24 weeks ending (w/e) 9 August, retail sales volumes of potatoes and potato products rose well ahead of the total food and non-alcoholic drink uplift. The return of big fast food brands in June helped lift takeaway volumes of potatoes.
“Whether you call them French fries, pommes frites, or chips, the fried potato is one of the most elusive of foods to get right, though countless entities try and most fail on a nearly daily basis,” writes David Todd McCarty in this delightful article published in The Standard. “The fact they they appear so simple, yet seem to be so difficult to master, may be one of the reasons we are so drawn to them,” McCarty figures. “They are a bit like good summer corn, random sex, or a perfect golf shot…
A little more than one-third of all potatoes grown in the United States are manufactured into frozen products, 85 percent of which are french fries, according to report by the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). Spurred by decades of explosive growth within the quick service restaurant industry (QSRs), processed potato products, which include frozen, chipped, dehydrated, and canned, became the major movers in the potato market, led by frozen french fries. The vast majority move through various food service venues or the export market.
McDonald’s has unveiled a new global flagship restaurant that is aiming for the “ultimate efficiency” in energy usage and performance. The chain said that the “first-of-its-kind” site in Orlando, Florida will generates all its own power to run its entire kitchen and restaurant operation from renewable energy. The construction of the restaurant means it can create enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100% of its energy needs on a net annual basis. McDonald’s will also use the flagship as a learning hub to test solutions for reducing energy and water use in future.
While many businesses are struggling to keep the doors open with the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, food delivery businesses are seeing high demand for their services. SkipTheDishes Restaurant Services Inc. is one of these. SkipTheDishes is a Canadian online restaurant ordering and food delivery company headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company has revealed that nearly seven million pounds (3.17 million kg) of potato products were sold through its online ordering service since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data from AHDB shows that Brits are buying more take-out than they did before lockdown, with latest figures showing a 2 percent rise in orders compared to March 2020. After a fall in sales at the start of lockdown due to fewer collections and the closure of drive-thrus, the takeaway market has returned to growth for the first time in four months. The latest research shows that the reopening of fast food chains has benefited all sectors, with big gains for the red meat sector, potatoes and dairy.
McCain steps in to support UK potato industry, put three-to-five-year loyalty scheme in place for growers
The UK’s £1bn potato growing sector has been hit so hard by extreme weather and coronavirus that its largest customer is stepping in with £25m of support to secure its supply chain. The hardest hit growers have been those who sell in the spot market rather than under contract, such as those selling for “fresh chipping” on the premises of food outlets. McCain, which buys about 15 per cent of the UK’s annual potato crop, normally has one-year contracts with growers. But as part of the £25m investment it will put in place a three-to-five-year loyalty scheme so farmers can be assured of their market.
Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced in a press release today its fiscal fourth quarter and full year 2020 results and provided a business update for the first quarter of fiscal 2021. “The final months of fiscal 2020 were some of the most challenging in our Company’s history,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO.
Major potato processor Lamb Weston and global quick service restaurant chain McDonald’s saw sales fall significantly in the three months to the end of June, but it could have been much worse. There are also some signs of a recovery in restaurant fry sales, although fears over coronavirus remain, according to Cedric Porter, editor of weekly market briefing World Potato Markets. Lamb Weston’s sales were 16% lower in the quarter than the same period last year, with demand from foodservice distributors and smaller restaurant the most affected.
In a July 2020 post to Reddit, a Taco Bell employee leaked information about some serious menu changes that would allegedly begin in August, 2020, and people were not pleased, reports Heather Clark for mashed.com. They were especially upset to read that “all potato items” would be disappearing from the menu. Taco Bell’s potato enthusiasts even created a Change.org petition titled “Save Taco Bell Potatoes” with over 9,000 signatures as of this writing.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCain Foods stepped in to help potato growers by releasing a video encouraging Canadians to eat more french fries, titled ‘French Fries Feed Farmers’. Despite the Canadian government’s relief programs, McCain Foods stated in a release that “the private sector has an important role to play.” The company put several initiatives in place “to show its deep-rooted commitment” to its 130 potato growers across Canada. The campaign is a 38-second video designed for social media highlighting one main message: Eat more fries, Canadians!
Potato acres across Canada are expected to be down for 2020, due to contract volume cuts in March as the pandemic lockdown hit North America, writes Shel Zolkewich in an article published by Spudsmart magazine. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told Zolkewich in a phone interview. “We thought we would have far too many potatoes in the market – and now, the opposite is happening in many areas.”
The release of the end-March stocks estimate did enable the UK domestic market to encapsulate the partial impact that the coronavirus is having on the potato industry. However, it does not allow us to paint the whole picture as we finish this marketing year and head into next season. Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, wrote the following report that we gladly re-publish here.
Signs are showing that frozen fry demand is improving quicker than the industry had anticipated, according to a May 27 report by North American Potato Market News. Restaurant chain sales in the U.S. improved five consecutive weeks from early April to mid-May, although were still down 21%, year-over-year in the week ending May 17.
Consumers have been urged to seek out British potatoes on supermarket shelves to help East Anglia’s growers shift the huge surplus generated by the loss of lockdown demand from chip shops and restaurants. The coronavirus pandemic left thousands of tonnes of potatoes stranded in stores as the food service sector closed down. Some have been redirected to retailers, others have been sold directly from farm shops and delivery schemes, or sold off as animal feed.
Australian potato farmers outraged as $1billion COVID-19 cash splash is given to European colleagues
Australian potato farmers are outraged to discover a $1billion COVID-19 assistance package given to European growers could result in a flood of French fries into the market from overseas. An industry representative body for vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, said an influx of about 2.6million tonnes of excess potatoes into Australia would lock farmers out of the fast-food industry. The two biggest potato processors, McCain Food and Simplot, have been working with AUSVEG alongside other companies to address the issue
With restaurants closed due to COVID-19, the potato industry in Canada has taken a big hit. Lukie Pieterse, editor and publisher of Potato News Today joined guest host Heather Morrison of CBC Saskatchewan to talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the industry.
“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.
Britain’s farmers are struggling to work out what to do with tens of thousands of tonnes of spare potatoes when their season ends this summer after the closure of fish and chip shops during the lockdown triggered a collapse in demand.
With COVID-19 closures in place all across the United States, and even the world, restaurant demand for potatoes has fallen. According to Frank Muir, CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, 60% of Idaho potatoes go to restaurants. “We’re trying to move crops in unprecedented times,” Muir said. “Prices were strong but they’ve been dipping. We can’t replace 60% of the food service loss.”
For farmer Mike Pink, spring is supposed to be a time of hope, when he can survey a green field of young potato plants and anticipate the bounty to be pulled from the sandy soils of the Columbia Basin, reports Hal Bernton of the Seattle Times. This year, this is a season when dreams die. Due to an epic potato glut that imploded his market, he has decided to do what was once unthinkable — destroy part of his crop rather than sink more dollars into cultivation. During the past two months, fast food sales have dropped sharply.