In a gesture of community aid amidst rising food insecurity McCain Foods partnered with nonprofit Foodbank Australia to donate around 100,000 meals. The meals were prepared at the company’s Wendouree-based factory, dedicating its full production line to the effort for a day. Ross Fallon, McCain Foods’ supply chain director, highlighted the growing need for such support, while Foodbank Victoria’s CEO, Dave McNamara, urged other food manufacturers to follow suit.
New Zealand, Australia
The Guardian’s Nicholas Jordan taste tested Australian frozen hash browns. He crowned Birds Eye Potato Gems as the top choice for their ideal crunch and flavor. Birds Eye also offered the best value, while McCain’s Quick Cook impressed with speed. Variations in crunchiness and flavor, like the farm-scented Seasons Pride and the inedible Strong Roots, highlighted the importance of texture in frozen potato products. This taste test revealed that not all hash browns are created equal…
Chemotherapy, thermotherapy and cryotherapy: New Zealand scientists unveil innovative methods to eradicate PVS, PVA, and PVM viruses
New Zealand scientists have developed a groundbreaking method to eradicate Potato Virus S (PVS), Potato Virus A (PVA), and Potato Virus M (PVM) from in vitro-grown potato shoots. The study, published in “Frontiers in Plant Science,” revealed that combining chemotherapy and cryotherapy was highly effective in producing virus-free potato plants. This advancement is vital for the potato industry, ensuring a supply of healthy planting material. The findings address New Zealand’s plant biosecurity concerns and have global implications for potato farming.
The New Zealand Seed Potato Certification Scheme, established in 1948, ensures high-quality seed potatoes for growers. Managed by Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ), the scheme underwent significant enhancements in 2021 to improve seed traceability and quality. While 95% of seed production is in Canterbury, the scheme’s success is attributed to rigorous inspections and a dedicated PNZ team. Despite challenges, the industry’s commitment ensures New Zealand’s prominence in the global potato market.
Tasmania’s iconic “Kenny” the Kennebec potato, a fixture on the Bass Highway for 40 years, has fallen due to a truck collision and strong winds. Creator Rick Rockliff assured the damage is fixable and revealed plans for a restoration. While bureaucratic challenges loom for Kenny’s reinstallation, the incident has sparked humorous memes on Tasmanian social media. The community eagerly anticipates Kenny’s triumphant return.
TNA Solutions, a food processing and packaging firm, completed a significant project for the Egyptian Army. Commissioned by the Egyptian NSPO in 2020, TNA introduced two advanced potato product production lines. The first line, for Hash Browns and Rosti, produces two metric tonnes hourly, while the second, for French Fries and other items, yields 10 metric tonnes. TNA oversees the entire process, including advanced distribution and packaging. Collaborating with Optima Solutions, TNA aids the Egyptian Ministry of Defence in self-sufficiency. The project’s June 2023 completion signifies a new era, with plans for further expansion.
SwarmFarm Robotics, an Australian based pioneer in Integrated Autonomy, has introduced its innovative “dock and refill” feature, allowing robots to autonomously refuel and restock. This development decouples equipment size from efficiency. Historically, larger farm tools have overshadowed smaller ones in productivity. However, larger equipment has caused soil compaction, reducing yields. SwarmFarm’s new capability ensures continuous operation without manual intervention, promoting sustainable farming and tailored solutions.
Lamb Weston, a global supplier of frozen potato products, has acquired Victorian-based Crackerjack Foods, known for its frozen potato-based items in the Australian food services sector. The acquisition includes two Crackerjack processing facilities and will see Crackerjack’s employees join Lamb Weston. The move aims to expand Lamb Weston’s product range, enhance processing capabilities, and strengthen its presence in Australia.
Potatoes New Zealand has appointed Kate Trufitt as its new chief executive. A director of Horticulture NZ, she has held many roles in the horticulture sector. According to the Potatoes NZ website, Trufitt has a great breadth of experience from plant nursery, growing, postharvest and processing through to the market – both domestic and export.
In a landmark deal, Simplot is set to acquire Agronico, Tasmania’s leading seed potato producer. The acquisition, pending regulatory approvals, promises to reshape Tasmania’s agricultural sector. Judith Shaw, Agronico’s owner, expressed confidence in Simplot’s ability to continue the company’s 35-year legacy. Agronico, known for its innovative use of hydroponics, produces 8,000 tonnes of seed potatoes and 25,000 tons of minitubers annually.
Wyma Solutions takes viewers behind the scenes with new video series, revealing the journey to cutting-edge production facilities
Wyma, a leading provider of post-harvest solutions, is thrilled to announce the launch of their new monthly video series that offers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the manufacturing journey of their exceptional products. This captivating series aims to give viewers an unprecedented glimpse into the heart of Wyma’s operations.
MHM Automation Limited, a global Agritech organization headquartered in New Zealand, has joined forces with Wyma, a similar-sized company. MHM specializes in supplying products and services to agricultural customers in the meat, dairy, grain, and horticulture sectors, particularly excelling in automated reverse packaging for dairy and plate freezer technology for meat. Additionally, MHM offers automation and robotics solutions, from palletizing to AGVs and automated warehousing.
TNA Solutions partnered with Mister Bee Potato Chips to revolutionize snack production, achieving a 400% capacity increase. The partnership involved a comprehensive upgrade of the manufacturing site, leveraging cutting-edge technologies and installing TNA’s state-of-the-art packaging system. The result was a significant boost in output, meeting increasing demand without compromising quality.
In a massive warehouse in Melbourne’s west, a gleaming new machine hums and purrs around the clock, extruding large rolls of clear plastic wrap. It is not the petroleum-based product so ubiquitous in everyday life — from wrapping factory goods on pallets to keeping food fresh in the fridge. This wrap is made from potato starch and polymers, a high-tech process that utilises potato waste from food products such as french fries and potato chips.
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 new generation of agtech has landed for potato growers in Australia thanks to Elders and UK-based harvest insights system HarvestEye. Growers can now glean precise and detailed information about their produce in real time. Using a camera and machine learning algorithms, the system measures and counts a crop as it is being harvested. This produces a breakdown of size, count and relative yield through a field.
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.
Australia faced a severe potato shortage due to wet weather, flooding, and persistent fungal diseases that destroyed crops in Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia. The weather conditions, coupled with high fuel and fertiliser costs, led to delayed planting and harvesting, creating a ripple effect in the supply chain. Despite being efficient and profitable crops, growers face constant threats from soil-borne diseases. Scientists are working on predicting disease outbreaks through soil moisture and temperature monitoring.
Australian entomologist Dr. Paul Horne discussed the benefits of adopting integrated pest management (IPM) practices at a Potatoes New Zealand research update meeting. He shared examples of growers who have successfully implemented IPM, reducing their reliance on chemical sprays and benefiting from biological control methods. Dr. Horne emphasized the importance of considering the impact of spraying on beneficial insects and utilizing cultural controls.
Potato chips manufacturer Bluebird, based in New Zealand, says its parent company PepsiCo has invested over $66 million into the development of its Auckland factory, with a $26m-plus packing machine under construction. The facility that can hold up to 13,500 pallets of chips. That is Bluebird’s biggest project, and expected to be completed later this year.
Australia’s largest potato producer, Mitolo Family Farms, has sold a majority stake in the business to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, as Kim Berry reports for Food & Drink Business. MD Frank Mitolo says the company’s growth plans require extra capital, but the family will retain a “significant ownership stake”.
The Rockliff Liberal Government in Tasmania is taking proactive steps to support potato producers after the detection of Potato Virus Y (PVY) tuber necrosis strain. The virus causes a disease of potatoes called potato tuber necrotic ringspot disease which results in dark unsightly rings on tubers. The virus is spread by aphids.
Consumers in Australia should see more potato products in supermarket freezers in the coming weeks as chip factories operate at capacity to meet demand, but the industry warns another shortage could be on the horizon. Potato harvests are underway in Tasmania and Victoria, Australia’s largest production areas for french fries.
Simplot sought a complete turnkey solution for their french fries production line in Tasmania. Fortunately, TOMRA Food offered sorting solutions that could be integrated with some of Simplot’s existing equipment. The sorting solutions offered by TOMRA Food enable Simplot to adjust their sorting procedures according to specific standards, ensuring they meet their customers’ targets while maintaining flexibility.