Fresh/ Table

Potato prices reach record high in NZ as Covid-19 affects industry

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.

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Cornish new potatoes flourishing after wet start

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.”

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The potato portal: New buyer and grower ‘match-making’ website goes live

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.

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Restaurant-grade gourmet potatoes go on sale in Tesco to ease glut

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.

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Aussie potato growers supported by public at farmers’ markets

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.

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Dutch processing potatoes sold on the Ukrainian fresh market

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.

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Hard choices: Farm leaders say crop dumping is last resort

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.

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Quebec family-run potato farm bags 160,000 pounds of spuds by hand during COVID-19 pandemic

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.

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‘The potato eaters’: Which nation loves spuds the most?

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.?

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AHDB set to launch online marketing tool to help cut surplus potato stocks

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.

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Covid-19 brings mixed news for Colorado potatoes

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.

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The great potato giveaway: U.S. farmers hand out spuds to avoid food waste

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.

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Potatoes USA: Total retail dollar sales increased by 15.5% in third marketing quarter

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.

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Idaho potatoes to be sold online?

According to a Capital Press report, the Idaho Potato Commission is considering advertising on major online sales platforms such as Amazon, Walmart and Kroger Co. websites. “If we ran a program starting in May through August, it could cost a little over $100,000,” Commission CEO Frank Muir said. Costs would be covered by recently lower spending on travel and on certain promotion and incentive programs. He has not yet made a formal recommendation to commissioners.

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Breakthrough: US potato industry welcomes $50 million USDA purchase of potatoes

The National Potato Council today welcomed USDA’s announcement of a $50 million surplus potato purchase to support the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The potato purchase, the largest of all the specialty crop purchases, was part of a $470 million Section 32 food purchase announced by USDA. This purchase is in addition to those previously announced by USDA.

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Support for British potato growers: Tesco commits to now sell chipping varieties as part of its ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range

More potatoes will hit shelves from this week to meet soaring demand. UK potato growers who have been left with surplus stock because of the closure of restaurants and fast food outlets are being given a helping hand by Tesco. The closure of restaurants, pubs and many fast food outlets has left a major surplus of particular varieties that are made into chips, which potato growers cannot now easily sell on. Now Tesco has teamed up with potato supplier Branston to take these potatoes that were previously destined for the catering trade.

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Canada’s British Columbia potato farmers face tough decisions as demand for fries fizzles

Beauty is only a peeler away. B.C. potato farmers in Canada are hoping grocery shoppers will embrace less-than-perfect Kennebec potatoes, a variety that’s usually turned into fresh-cut french fries, as local restaurant demand has fizzled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have B.C. restaurants cut their potato orders, reduced demand across Canada has led to a glut of Kennebec potatoes on the fresh market. That’s led to downward pressure on prices as potatoes from other provinces find their way to B.C.

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Washington farmers’ COVID plight: ‘What do you do with a billion pounds of potatoes that you can’t sell?’

The coronavirus pandemic has left Washington’s farmers with at least a billion pounds of potatoes they can’t sell, a new crop growing without any buyers and millions of dollars in debt they have no way to pay. As it turns out, getting rid of a billion pounds of spuds isn’t easy — or cheap. It usually takes Washington farmers a year to sell that quantity to grocery stores. “Now we’re trying to move it in a couple months,” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission said.

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Coronavirus pandemic leads to Idaho potato market distress

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a once strong potato market to make an abrupt about-face, leading some Idaho growers to dump surplus spuds from storage cellars or to feed them to cattle. Just a few weeks ago, Idaho potato farmers were enjoying some of their best fresh prices in recent memory and anticipated supplies would run short in the coming summer. The combination of lower spud yields and widespread frost damage during the 2019 harvest had contributed to a smaller statewide crop than normal, the Post Register reported Saturday.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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