At the 2023 Potato Business Summit earlier this year, Kim Breshears of Potatoes USA highlighted the enduring popularity of potatoes in America. Studies show potatoes as the top vegetable for five consecutive years. While 40% of the U.S. potato crop goes to retail and food service each, 20% is exported. Despite a brief pandemic-induced dip, food service sales are rebounding, indicating a robust future for the potato industry. The data presented by Kim Breshears underscores the unwavering popularity of potatoes in the U.S. market.
In the first half of 2023, Ukrainian farmers exported a record 19.8 thousand tons of fresh potatoes, despite tensions with Russia. This surpasses their previous high in 2013 by over 5,000 tons. However, this achievement highlights concerns for the industry’s future. Exports in 2023 were significantly higher than previous years, but the wholesale price was a mere $0.16/kg, insufficient to cover production costs. Additionally, 91% of these exports went to Moldova due to the potatoes’ low quality, as per EastFruit analysts.
During the U.S.-Japan bilateral talks from September 25-29, the U.S. potato sector, spearheaded by National Potato Council’s CEO Kam Quarles, will push for broader access to Japan’s fresh potato market. Although the U.S. has exported chipping potatoes to Japan since 2006, there’s a drive to expand into the overall fresh potato segment, which could yield an additional $150-$200 million in yearly exports. This initiative has bipartisan backing from Congress.
In a groundbreaking move at the Potato Europe trade show, Belgium and France inked the ‘Covenant on robust organic potatoes 2023 – 2026,’ marking France’s first participation. The agreement, expanding on previous Belgian deals, promises more robust potato varieties and aims to boost their presence in fields and distribution. The covenant will run until 2026.
PotatoNext, the new independent cooperative formed by Agrico, Nedato, and Leo de Kock, is set to revolutionize the potato industry. With a fresh new logo and corporate identity, PotatoNext aims to bring together the entire process of potato production, from planting to consumption. Led by experienced directors Jan Bijleveld and Mariska Werring, the cooperative’s management team is committed to driving growth and success. Stay tuned for more updates on the benefits and developments this collaboration will bring to growers, customers, and suppliers.
Sterman Masser Potato Farms will present its Side Delights Petite potatoes at the NEPC Expo in Boston from August 21-22, 2023. These U.S. No.1 grade potatoes come in various colors and innovative packaging. Additionally, Masser introduces its sustainable Bioflex packaging, which decomposes in modern landfills. Lela Reichart, the Executive Director of Marketing, emphasizes Masser’s commitment to quality and sustainability, inviting attendees to experience their innovations at Booth #425.
Potatoes prices in South Africa have reached record levels for the year and are trading at 77% higher than a year ago. This week, the prices again increased, reaching ZAR81,67/10kg (approx $4.50) , Johnny van der Merwe, managing director of AM Trends, says. Speakers at the Potatoes South Africa (PSA) research symposium held this week noted that the high level of wastage in the potato industry was contributing to higher prices, and reducing profitability on farms.
While the old UK potato crop is mostly being traded at higher prices due to limited supply, the new season’s crop trade is also starting to pick up, as Harry Campbell reports for Mintec. However, demand is outpacing supply as freshly harvested crops are quickly bought up. Prices for Grade 1 White Packing Potatoes EXW England are currently priced at £400/mt, up 627% y-o-y.
Tasmanian supermarkets are once again fully stocked with frozen chips [fries], bringing an end to a potato shortage that left chip bowls empty across the country between Christmas last year and just a few weeks ago, as Pulse Hobart reports. The local spud harvest is being fed through production plants owned by Simplot and McCain, refilling the freezers at supermarkets and takeaway shops.
A Jersey potato exporter is calling for more financial support from the island’s government as deliveries to the UK continue to fall. In peak season, Albert Bartlett sends 1.5 million packets of Jersey Royals a week to major UK retailers but says that is around 25% less than five years ago, as demand for the product has declined, according to a report by ITV Channel.
Idaho officials are taking steps to get fresh potatoes to Japan. Between June 5 and 8, representatives from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the Idaho Potato Commission traveled to Japan on a trade mission to promote market access for fresh U.S. potatoes. Idaho Potato Commission chairman Bryan Wada said the trip was “very productive”.
Irish potato prices have doubled over the past 12 months, according to a Dublin-based fresh produce supplier. And there could still be further market increases in the pipeline, as Richard Halleron reports for Agriland. According to Justin Leonard, the owner of a fresh fruit and vegetable supply business, “Currently, potatoes cannot be sourced from any region of Europe. Last year’s crop has now been fully utilised. The end result has been a doubling of potato prices, year-on-year.”
Potato prices in the mults have jumped by as much as 100% on last year’s levels, research by The Grocer has found. As Grace Duncan reports in a news story published by The Grocer, after wholesale prices hit their highest-ever rates in May, The Grocer’s research found on-shelf retail prices for potatoes have also soared. Tim O’Malley of Nationwide Produce said prices had hit the “highest levels I’ve ever known”.
Consumption and retails sales in Ireland are at levels to be expected during the hot temperatures experienced, according to information published in the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) weekly potato market report. Demand for early potatoes is buoyant, with yields reported to be only average so far. According to the IFA report, yields of early crops in the Mediterranean countries have been poor.
Mitolo Family Farms, Australia’s potato and onion category leader, has partnered with Australian supermarket chain Coles, as well as global innovators in sustainable packaging solutions Detpak, to create what is believed to be Australia’s first curbside recyclable paper bag for fresh potatoes. The new Gourmandine paper packaging extends on previous sustainability steps taken by Mitolo Family Farms, as the company previously cut its use of plastic packaging in 2022.
Potato retail sales from January-March 2023 increased by 16% in dollar terms in the U.S., despite a 4.4% volume decrease. According to Potatoes USA, frozen potatoes led sales growth, up by 41.9%, followed by instant and fresh potatoes. However, volume sales for instant and refrigerated potatoes declined significantly. All fresh potato types except white, fingerling, and purple saw increased dollar sales. The average price per pound for fresh potatoes rose 18.7%. Bagged potatoes less than two pounds were the only category to see both dollar and volume growth.
Potatoes South Africa and the University of Pretoria have secured funding for a project to create a new value chain for ‘cull’ potatoes. The three-phase approach includes a detailed market research study, innovative product development, and the creation of a secondary market for these potatoes as feed for high protein insects. Stakeholders globally are invited to collaborate and contribute ideas, potentially revolutionizing waste potato utilization and enhancing the industry’s sustainability.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is pushing for increased access to the Japanese fresh potato market. National Potato Council Head, Kam Quarles, suggests this could lead to a $150-200 million annual increase in potato exports. Lawmakers, in a letter to U.S. Secretary Vilsack, urged for resolutions in the ongoing three-decade trade negotiations before fall’s bilateral talks.
Side Delights has introduced Spuds, a new line of “less-than-perfect” potatoes aimed at value- and sustainability-conscious consumers. By offering these cosmetically imperfect yet nutritious and tasty potatoes, the company aims to combat food waste while providing cost-effective options for shoppers. Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network, said: “Spuds was created for environmentally conscious, food-waste-minded shoppers who understand that potatoes can still be nutritious and taste delicious even if they are cosmetically challenged.”
European associations express concern over proposed packaging waste regulation and its impact on fresh produce sector
Copa-Cogeca, Freshfel Europe and Europatat responded in a joint statement to the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste that was published on 30 November 2022. They strongly call for a revision of certain provisions, which would ban packaging for fruit and vegetables under 1.5kg.
Ton Frijters has represented HZPC in China for many years, visiting numerous potato growers and experiencing the challenges of strict coronavirus measures in the country recently. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the future and is looking forward with enthusiasm to 2023. “The demand for HZPC varieties in China is continuously growing,” Ton affirms.
Recently, the staple of the Latvian diet – potatoes – experienced one of the steepest price jumps in the past 10 years, reaching an average increase of 50%. Growers are now preparing for the new season in the hope that weather conditions will be favorable enough to finally produce good results after two years of poor harvest, Zemgale Television reported on February 22.
Potato retail sales increased in dollar sales by 14.4% but decreased in volume sales by -1.5% from January – December 2022 compared to 2021. Despite a slight decrease in volume sales, volume sales remain 3.7% above pre-pandemic levels, says Potatoes USA in a news update. All categories of potatoes increased in dollar sales, with four potato categories rising by double digits. In addition to increasing dollar sales, refrigerated and canned increased volume sales by 0.7% and 2.8%, respectively. Fresh potato dollar sales were up for all types except purple potatoes.
It’s the New Year, which means many of us are trying to eat better, save money and find more time in our day. Cara Harbstreet, registered dietitian and intuitive eating expert, recommends a kitchen hero that’s a solution for it all: the potato… “Potatoes are America’s favorite vegetable, but they’re more than just delicious,” said Harbstreet. “They’re an affordable, nutritional powerhouse with a long shelf life and faster cook times than you think!”