According to a report by Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, the month of May has been relatively static across the industry in general. The initial lockdown caused a divergence in demand between the retail and food service sector. Speight writes in his report: “We have since seen their respective demand stabilise momentarily and we are at a juxtaposition that relies on further uplifting of lockdown restrictions for demand to increase.”Throughout May we had increased reports of chip shops reopening. Outlets that featured on take out apps, mostly in built up urban areas have reported to have a successful customer base.
Jordan Okumura of AndNowUKnow reports that “the awesome potato has been a hotter category than usual as of late, with demand spiking through the spring months. As we get our foothold in June, the potato market is finding some stability for Eagle Eye Produce, though the consumer’s passion for the produce item is staying strong.”
With the Farmers to Families Food Box Program underway across the country, companies are busy packing and sending fresh produce to food banks. Chris Koger of The Packer provides a round-up of recent COVID-19-related news. As far as potatoes are concerned, Koger writes that Potatoes USA is connecting with industry members through a new video series, Keeping It Current, to explain what the organization has been doing during the pandemic.
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.
Potato production in Tenerife will significantly decrease this year due to a wind storm that hit the island in late February, which wiped out a good part of the extra-early potato crop. And then there was also damage done by the Guatemalan moth plague that has been affecting Tenerife farmers for more than 20 years.
Wisconsin spuds had a shaky start to the COVID-19 pandemic, but high consumer demand has put potatoes in a good spot, says the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The retail demand increased tremendously with the advent of COVID,” Executive Director Tamas Houlihan said. “Grocery store sales were through the roof, people were stocking up, and they weren’t buying the usual 5 and 10 pound bags. They were buying as much as they could.”
It was common for a fruit or vegetable to be having a good winter in terms of volume, pricing and demand, and then in mid-March, when lockdowns began, the item would see a sudden demand surge then crash. Greg Johnson, Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services reports. Johnson writes that no produce item shows this pandemic effect as clearly as potatoes, whose average F.O.B. price has been about half of what it was in early March, as demand has been significantly damaged by restaurant, school and institution closures.
Mitolo Family Farms will strengthen its grip on Australia’s potato industry following an agreement to purchase Thomas Foods International’s fresh potato business, The deal announced between the two South Australian family-owned companies came about after Mitolo Family Farms Managing Director Frank Mitolo approached TFI CEO Darren Thomas about selling the potato business several months ago.
According to a report published earlier this week by the Washington Ag Network, the National Potato Council and state grower organizations wrote Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last week to talk about potatoes that have nowhere to go for processing. According to the Council, more than 1.5 billion pounds of fresh potatoes for processing and potato products are trapped in the supply chain with no likely customers.
Maltese farmers are devastated to find that their potato harvests will not be accepted as exports in the COVID-19 crisis. “The farmers are desperate. This isn’t something they handle overnight but they actually invest months of their time and a lot of money,” head of farmers’ lobby G?aqda Bdiewa Attivi Malcolm Borg told Times of Malta.
Consumers in Belgium might have noticed that in most supermarkets currently also packed early potatoes originating from the Mediterranean area are being offered. The Flemish media in Belgium have given attention sincere attention to this.. Belgapom recently presented an explanation for this phenomenon.
Statistics New Zealand said today that prices rose 18 per cent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo – an all-time high. “Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said.
Growers of Cornish new potatoes said their crops are now flourishing after a miserable start to the year. FG Pryor is currently harvesting in the fields around Penzance, lifting the fluffy-skinned Cornish new potatoes: initially destined only for Cornwall, but shortly to be available nationwide. Colwyn Farm has been run by the Pryor family since the late 1800’s. Philip Pryor says: “I want to hand the land over to the next generation in the same or better state than it was handed to me.”
AHDB in the UK has launched a new portal to help put potato growers and wholesale buyers in touch with each other. The portal will act as a ‘match-making’ site for growers and merchants to find each other, with any trade taking place directly between them. Growers can view any requests on the portal from merchants and/or post available stocks of potatoes. Merchants can view available stocks from growers and/or post requests for specific varieties and/or volumes of potatoes.
Gourmet potatoes favoured by top chefs and typically found only on the menus of high-end restaurants are to go on sale in Tesco this week to avoid them going to waste, according to news report by The Guardian in the UK. The move aims to ease a glut of fresh potatoes in the UK, with thousands of tonnes unused since the government ordered the closure of hospitality businesses on 23 March.
Many industries have faced changes due to COVID-19, including potato growers. With the Great Trentham Spudfest in Victoria, Australia cancelled earlier this month due to coronavirus restrictions, the region’s growers were left without one of their biggest opportunities of the year to sell their produce. But they, along with other growers around Ballarat, have all found ways to continue selling their potatoes to the public.
The Netherlands has begun supplying potatoes, originally intended for processing, to the Ukraine. Despite the fact that these varieties are not intended for fresh consumption, the processing potatoes from the Netherlands sell well on the fresh market in the Ukraine, mostly because these potatoes are of high quality, while it is sold at prices similar to local Ukrainian potatoes.
The reports of some farmers, ranchers or dairy operations dumping their farm commodities is not easy news to digest. But imagine how the farmer feels? When a producer makes the decision to destroy some of their crop, it is their absolute last resort and they do it with a heavy heart, farm industry leaders say.A lot of producers are donating their crops to food banks and other feeding programs right now but sometimes that isn’t an option due to logistical hurdles or economics, said Pat Kole, director of industry and government relations for the Idaho Potato Commission.
Members of the Thomas and Delforge family farm have been forced to bag more than 160,000 pounds of potatoes — by hand. The family farm located in Coteau-du-Lac, a city 40 minutes west of Montreal, is a major producer for regional food suppliers. The economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has lowered demand for potatoes, bringing the industry to a halt. The family produces about 100 to 125 bags a day and sells them for $15 a pouch at a kiosk at the entrance of their farm. So far some 70,000 pounds worth of potatoes have been sold, with another 80,000 remaining.
This interesting graph, depicting potato consumption in several countries around the world, was first published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on its website. The organization says its 600 full-time journalists, 750 freelancers, and 20 local bureaus provide accurate news and information in 27 languages and 23 countries, making it one of the most comprehensive news operations in the world.?
The AHDB in the UK is set to launch a marketing tool to help shift surplus potato stocks caused by a drop-off in demand since the Covid-19 lockdown. Food service sector demand for potatoes collapsed when the measures forced the closure of commercial outlets such as restaurants and many chip shops, reports Jonathan Riley for Farmers Weekly. To help move some of the surplus, the AHDB has set up a website, to be launched next week once final security testing has been completed. The aim is to provide a matchmaking service between growers with surpluses in their stores and potential buyers.
The good news in Colorado’s fresh potato industry is that retail demand has been very strong this spring, because of, or in spite of, the Coronavirus pandemic. James Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said movement from Colorado potato storages is so strong that those shippers may finish distributing the 2019 crop by July. “Prices are strong,” he added in an April 29 interview. The discouraging coronavirus news for the Colorado — and national potato industry — is the decline in foodservice sales.
In Washington, the No. 2 U.S. potato growing state after Idaho, a billion pounds of russet potatoes, normally processed into french fries and hash browns, are sitting in warehouses that would typically be emptying ahead of the July harvest, the Washington State Potato Commision said. Instead, the organization is handing out the surplus for free in brown sacks, 100,000 pounds at a time.
IRI data for the third quarter of the marketing year (January – March 2020) showed growth in both dollars and volume for total potato sales at retail, Potatoes USA says. Total dollar sales increased by 15.5% and volume increased by 15%. Every category increased in both dollar and volume sales except for deli-prepared sides. Fresh potato sales also increased in dollar and volume sales by 19.2% and 15%, respectively, with all potato types increasing in volume sales.