Last year, Taco Bell cut a number of items from its menu, including two dishes that featured its seasoned potato bites: Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes and the Spicy Potato Soft Taco. Those two items will be back in restaurants on March 11, the chain announced on Thursday. Rumors of potatoes getting axed started to swirl last summer after a Reddit user, identified as a verified employee, said potatoes were leaving the menu. Taco Bell soon confirmed the news, leading to a stream of dismay online.
Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurants
Market analyst: ‘European potato production increase creates challenges for the global fry industry’
Potato production in the European Union’s five major french fry exporting countries is at 888.1 million cwt, up 10.2 per cent from the year before, the Dec. 2 issue of North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says. Poland is responsible for 60 per cent of the extra spuds, but production in each of the exporting countries increased.
A survey conducted by the research firm Morning Consult found that 47% of families say they will cancel holiday get-togethers. What does this mean for potato sales? “We know that potatoes are the most popular side dish on the Thanksgiving table, and we don’t expect that to change,” explained Frank Muir, President & CEO, Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). “We anticipate that Idaho® potatoes will remain at the top of shoppers’ lists, regardless of the number of people at their gatherings.
According to a report by Toni Williams for Rural Life in New Zealand, an influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses. Latest figures were estimated at a surplus of 2.6million tonnes in Europe and growing due to the impacts of further lockdowns in parts of Europe.
Lockdown 2.0 “arrived” in Britain and this brings widespread closure of pubs and restaurants once again. Although the rules differ across the country, with Wales’ firebreak rules coming to an end, Scotland experiencing regional restrictions and England in a full national lockdown. This will inevitably effect the potato industry, but the effect is unlikely to be as dramatic as the first lockdown, according to the AHDB.
Supplying McDonald’s with all their potatoes means a Canterbury grower has been able to avoid the worst effects of a Covid-19-inspired glut of overseas potatoes on the New Zealand market. Canterbury-based Hewson Farms produces around 22,000 tonnes of potatoes every year – 12,000 tonnes of which end up as McDonald’s fries. However, a 2.6 million tonne surplus of the vegetable in Europe – floods of spuds – is causing headaches for New Zealand growers and processors.
The Coronavirus has had a major impact on the global potato industry since its discovery and spread earlier this year, writes Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets magazine. The crisis led to a 20 percent increase in household consumption of table potatoes in April-May in many countries. Trade in potatoes and potato products declined 3,4% to € 13,240 billion for the Northern Hemisphere from August 2019 to July 2020. The crisis has shown many buyers that potatoes are nutritious, versatile and a valuable food.
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.
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.