Europe, UK, Ireland

A giant in the making: Somos Hijolusa marks a new era in the Spanish potato and horticultural sector

Patatas Hijolusa, Agrícola Villena, and Natuber have merged, forming Somos Hijolusa, a Spanish potato and horticulture giant with potential earnings of over €200 million. This traditional, family-rooted industry is evolving through strategic partnerships, aiming for national dominance and global market entry. The union signifies an innovative step for firms embracing sustainable agriculture and cooperative growth to succeed in the modern economy.

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AVR celebrates 175 years with limited edition PUMA 4 harvester and a year of festivities

In its 175th year, Belgian company AVR celebrates with a limited edition PUMA 4.0, a blend of tradition and technology. Starting as a small forge in 1849, AVR evolved into a leader in potato harvesting machinery. The anniversary PUMA 4.0 symbolizes this legacy, alongside a series of events thanking its community. With over 550 PUMA harvesters worldwide, AVR’s impact is substantial, promising continued innovation and sustainability for the future.

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New horizons in frozen cuisine: McCain Foods and Strong Roots expand their strategic partnership

McCain Foods has reinforced its alliance with Dublin-based Strong Roots, aiming to offer more sustainable, vegetable-rich frozen foods globally. With investment since 2021, McCain seeks to transform the freezer aisle with Strong Roots’ planet-friendly dishes. Their partnership focuses on growth and sustainability, with initiatives like a brand advisory council and adherence to regenerative agriculture practices. McCain’s strategic moves include recent acquisitions to diversify and enhance their offerings.

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Finnish Potato Association integrates into Europatat, enhancing European sector synergy

Europatat has expanded its reach by welcoming Finland’s PAYR, the comprehensive Potato Sector Association, as its 21st member. PAYR, formed from a merger of Finnish potato organizations in 2015, aims to boost sales, support potato research, and secure project funding. With a diverse 9-member board, PAYR strengthens international ties in the potato industry and prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2025.

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British growers warned of dual threat to potato crops: Wireworm risk rises amid wet soils

Growers are warned of increased wireworm damage risks in potato crops due to wet soils, potentially exacerbated by reduced autumn cultivations and cover crops. Syngenta’s Andy Cunningham notes severe weather has limited Integrated Pest Management (IPM) options. Trials show that Nemathorin treatment at planting can significantly reduce wireworm damage and limit Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) multiplication, offering substantial yield increases and financial gains over untreated or alternative treatments.

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PepsiCo’s Veurne plant in Belgium embraces cutting-edge automation for crisp production

PepsiCo is transforming its Belgian Veurne factory, collaborating with Mecalux to install a cutting-edge Automated Storage and Retrieval System for managing 2 million daily bags of crisps. Incorporating a Mecalux Automated Pallet Shuttle and a seamless 100-meter-long conveyor, this overhaul, complemented by Mecalux’s Easy WMS, aims to boost efficiency and sustainability in PepsiCo’s large-scale snack production.

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TOMRA Food inaugurates new regional center in Valencia, main HUB for Southern Europe and North Africa

TOMRA Food, a leader in sorting and peeling solutions, has restructured to better serve regional markets globally. The Valencia center is key to their personalized approach, focusing on demonstrations, customer support, training, and after-sales service for EMEA. They emphasize direct customer engagement, continuous innovation, and are introducing new technologies like Spectrim X to enhance sorting efficiency and return on investment for clients.

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Maximize potato yields with Riegogel water-retaining

Riegogel introduces a biodegradable gel that retains water for up to 45 days, boosting potato crop yields by up to 20% and reducing irrigation needs by 50%. It combats drought, enhances soil health, and efficiently utilizes water and nutrients. Proven effective in trials, it offers a sustainable solution for various crops, aligning with climate resilience efforts.

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‘Terra Carbono’: Pioneering a greener future in the potato industry

Terra Carbono, an innovative Hungarian ag-tech company, focuses on sustainable potato cultivation, aiming to reduce carbon footprints and improve agricultural productivity. They create biodegradable, carbon-negative products that boost yield, conserve water, and minimize chemical use while enhancing soil health. Terra Carbono is engaged in several partnerships for community betterment and sustainable practices.

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Unprecedented weather conditions disrupt potato planting in Ireland and across Europe, market gap looms

Extreme weather in Ireland is causing delays in potato planting, impacting the national economy. The Irish Farmers Association reports excessive rainfall leading to minimal progress and potential market shortages. Similar issues are occurring across Europe, constricting current potato stocks with main processors trying to mitigate supply chain disruptions. The situation reflects the strong link between climate and agricultural stability.

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Potato industry in Ireland entering new era of blight management

The Irish potato industry is set to upgrade blight management in 2024 by using two potent fungicides together, as blight quickly develops resistance to current treatments. The worrisome EU43 blight variant, which resists common fungicides and has damaged European crops, has been found in Ireland, necessitating more complex spraying strategies. (Source: Agriland)

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Potato planting in peril: Irish farmers face uncertain future amidst wet weather woes

Irish potato farmers face a crisis as incessant rain delays planting, jeopardizing this year’s crop and market supply. Seasoned growers like Meath’s Ivan Curran and Louth’s Maria Flynn confront the worst conditions in decades, with the crucial weeks ahead being vital for deciding the availability of supermarket and specialty potatoes, such as those used by Tayto crisps.

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IFA: Weather crisis in Ireland, planting delays in Europe

The Irish Farmers Association reports severe weather impacting Ireland’s potato crop, with limited early planting and a shortage of main season crop expected to worsen. Despite robust consumption, unsettled conditions persist, delaying planting across Europe. Prices remain stable despite planting delays, including in the U.K, where only eastern regions made some progress.

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Albert Bartlett completes Jersey potato company purchase

Albert Bartlett, a prominent UK potato supplier, has acquired the Jersey Royal Company (JRC) following approval from the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority. This purchase from Produce Investments extends Bartlett’s operations, which span Britain, Ireland, and France. CEO Alex Bartlett emphasized the company’s longstanding relationship with Jersey’s agriculture. Produce Investments expressed confidence in Bartlett’s capability to advance the Jersey potato sector.

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Precision farming reaches new heights with Vultus’s early disease detection service for potato crops

Swedish tech company Vultus, in tandem with AR Tarim, has launched a service to change potato disease management. By analyzing weather and field data, it predicts disease and pest outbreaks, aiding in early detection and control of ailments like potato blight. This allows for precise and efficient use of pesticides, enhancing crop health and facilitating sustainable practices. The service signifies a leap in precision agriculture, with potential environmental and productivity benefits.

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‘Drip by drip’: Engel Louwes’s innovative approach to sustainable potato farming with drip irrigation

Engel Louwes, a distinguished potato industry consultant, drives sustainability in agriculture through adopting drip irrigation. Specializing with 40 years of experience, Louwes’ career began in the 80s with companies like HZPC. His collaboration with Polish potato farmer Szymon Cena has become a hallmark project. Successfully introducing drip irrigation for potatoes in Poland, Louwes now aims to replicate this in India.

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Potato market dynamics: Egypt’s currency woes, Ukraine’s import surge

Currency devaluation in Egypt has cheapened its potato exports, spiking international market demand but raising domestic supply concerns. Meanwhile, Ukraine experiences a market downturn with rising potato imports, mainly from the EU, lowering local prices. These cases reflect the global potato market’s susceptibility to economic, policy, and trade variables, highlighting the necessity for sustainable agriculture and resilient economic strategies.

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Irish potato growers call for protest action outside supermarkets

The Irish Farmers’ Association, led by President Francie Gorman, has support from potato growers to protest against supermarkets over complex Bord Bia audits. The issue, discussed at a National Potato Meeting, includes supermarkets adding audits per GLOBALG.A.P standards. The IFA plans to meet with food retailer CEOs soon, starting with TESCO Ireland.

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Sustainable spuds: The EU’s ‘Potatoes Forever!’ campaign champions eco-conscious cultivation

The EU’s “Potatoes Forever!” campaign champions sustainable potato cultivation and consumption in Europe. Funded by the EU for 2024, it targets adults 35-49 through various media, teaching about eco-friendly potato practices from farming to dining, in line with the “Farm to Fork” strategy. This initiative aims to transform the industry and maintain potatoes as a dietary staple, respecting nature and combating climate change.

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Breeding the super spud: How scientists are striving to create climate-resilient potatoes

The ADAPT project explores breeding resilient potatoes through genetics. Researchers have discovered how the SP6A protein triggers potato formation and how high temperatures disrupt this process. By manipulating genes related to SP6A, they’ve produced potatoes that grow earlier and in greater numbers, even in adverse conditions. Findings on the GERMIN3 gene also contribute to improved potato yield by managing sugar supply during growth. Such advances aim at securing food production despite climate challenges.

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From Irish fields to European markets: Navigating potato production delays and export dynamics

The latest report from the Irish Farmers Association shows strong home consumption and retail trade for potatoes in Ireland. Planting is delayed, with virtually no sowing before St Patrick’s day and decreasing stock causing price increases. Across Europe, wet conditions have postponed early crop planting, though some areas like South West France now report better progress. Export demand fluctuates, reflecting diverse regional farming challenges.

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The TRUTH project: Transforming the future of Britain’s soil health analysis with a farmer-led platform

The TRUTH project, backed by a £1M Defra grant and implemented by BOFIN and others, aims to revolutionize soil and root health understanding through advanced research and sensor technology in the UK. It introduces novel microbial sensing and soil testing tools, establishing a farmer network, the Soil Circle, for knowledge sharing, and equipping ‘Root Rangers’ to enhance sustainable soil management practices.

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Compensation sought for flood-impacted potato growers in Ireland

The Irish Farmers’ Association is requesting immediate compensation for potato growers hit by floods, citing that 650 acres of crops remain unharvested due to 2023’s adverse weather. The IFA highlights urgent compensation need, as farmers seek to plant spring crops and face substantial losses from the unavoidable damage caused by January frosts.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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