At the Canadian Potato Summit, UPGC’s Victoria Stamper presented an insightful analysis of the potato industry for 2023-24, highlighting a record high potato stock and shifting production trends, with a 7.2% storage increase. Canada’s potato production reached a new peak with over $1.5 billion in sales value. She discussed challenges like surplus storage, quality management, cost pressures, and shifts in consumer preferences. Opportunities for Canadian exporters in the global market, especially in Europe, were emphasized.
News January 2024
Europe’s farmers are protesting against what they consider are unfair and contradictory policies, disrupting daily life with demonstrations across France, Germany, Romania, and Bulgaria due to the climate crisis and policy responses. Protests escalated after a tragic accident in France and are poised to continue with potential nationwide action, expressing long-term frustration over environmental policy applications and subsidy removals.
The Europatat Congress returns to Brussels on May 23-24, 2024, focusing on “European Potato Trade in 2030: a sector in transition.” Industry leaders will discuss environmental, economic, and social challenges, and innovations within the sector. The agenda includes reviews, a General Assembly, and a public conference amid European elections, offering networking opportunities enriched by social events. Potato professionals will soon be able to register at the congress website.
Ukraine’s potato industry is experiencing a severe price surge, with costs up to four times compared to last year’s. A shortage of quality potatoes due to lower yields is driving this spike as the season ends. Consequently, imports, especially from Poland, are increasing to meet demand, affecting Polish market prices as well. This creates critical challenges and opportunities within the industry, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning and global collaboration.
Resilient Irish potato market navigates harsh weather, shortfall reported in European potato supplies
The Irish Farmers Association reports a rise in potato sales due to their economic value in the cost-of-living crisis. Despite tough harvesting, consumption has increased, with the UK and Northern Europe facing supply challenges. Potential losses in Europe could lead to 800,000 tonnes of potatoes being lost, prompting interest in imports to cover deficits in spring. This situation offers both obstacles and prospects for the potato industry.
The National Potato Council’s Potato Expo 2024 in Austin set a new record with 2,320 attendees from 18 countries. Celebrating its 16th year with extensive educational sessions and events like ‘Top Spud’ taco competition, the expo focused on technological innovation and public policy advocacy. It raised $108,000 for Potato LEAF and highlighted impending U.S.-Japan trade negotiations. The next expo is slated for January 2025 in Las Vegas.
PepsiCo Egypt celebrated the fourth harvest of its “She Feeds the World” program, supporting 10,000 female farmers. Launched in 2020, the initiative empowers rural women in agriculture, aligning with pep+ and Egypt 2030 Vision, aiming for self-sufficiency and enhanced living conditions. The program has touched 390,000 lives and promotes economic empowerment and community development. The stories of these resilient women serve as a beacon of inspiration and a call to action for continued progress in the agricultural sector.
Syngenta Canada’s Zero Hunger Challenge has surpassed its meal donation target by 20%, contributing over 225,000 meals to combat rural hunger and food insecurity, which has risen 78% since 2019. With $1 million already donated to Food Banks Canada, the initiative is committed to increasing 2024’s target to 250,000 meals. Syngenta engages in food drives and promotes agricultural innovation to support this cause.
Prince Edward Island’s potato industry is on the brink of a major resurgence, overcoming past challenges with potato wart. As reported by the Island Farmer, extensive testing and new initiatives by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are revitalizing the sector. The development of a new national potato wart response plan promises to position PEI once again as a leading source of trusted potatoes in North America.
PACE Mechanical Handling, a UK-based automated potato packaging firm, aims to expand into the US market in 2024 by building a dealer network. With over 250 UK installations, a strong domestic presence, and international projects including Canada, the company offers efficient solutions to alleviate labor shortages and enhance productivity. With a successful track record in the UK, the firm is confident in replicating its success in the American market.
Regenerative agriculture and beyond: McCain Foods’ journey to sustainable farming outlined in latest Global Sustainability Report
McCain Foods has announced considerable advancement toward its sustainability goals, with 51% of its global potato acreage now within its Regenerative Agriculture Framework. Its 2023 Global Sustainability Report highlights innovations and efficiencies in farming practices, renewable energy use, and water conservation. McCain is working closely with 3,500 farmers globally, furthering sustainable practices through education and financial support.
HarvestEye’s groundbreaking insights tool with expanded crop compatibility to be unveiled at Fruit Logistica 2024
HarvestEye will exhibit its crop insights tool at Fruit Logistica, offering the fresh produce sector a method to assess crops’ size and variety via its updated system compatible with onions and potatoes. The technology includes a new handheld device for pre-harvest analysis. Growers can lease or rent units, gaining actionable AI insights to enhance supply chain efficiency and reduce waste.
British farmers, represented by Riverford Organic’s petition-backed protest featuring scarecrows outside Parliament, request MPs to enact stronger protections against the “big six” supermarkets’ buying practices. With 49% of farmers at risk of going out of business within a year, they urge for reforms in the grocery supply code. The debate follows as over 110,000 people advocate for a grocery industry overhaul.
The Masser Family of Companies in Sacramento, PA, has released their annual People, Process, and Planet Report outlining their sustainability efforts. By setting measurable benchmarks, the company ensures progress toward their environmental goals. Their sustainable practices span from agriculture to technology, including water conservation, renewable energy usage, land management, and reduced carbon emissions.
Potatoes Australia Ltd. has named Ms. Robbie Davis as the official Ambassador for the 12th World Potato Congress in Adelaide, 2024. Ms. Davis, with her extensive industry background, including a previous CEO role and board directorships, will leverage her expertise to promote the event. Her responsibilities include advocacy, industry engagement, and media relations. Her aim is to foster unity and innovation within the international potato community at the Congress.
Over 150 UK potato producers will convene at the SACAPP conference in Dundee, hosted by SRUC, to discuss industry resilience, innovation, and challenges such as PCN. Keynote speakers, including industry experts and a Nuffield Scholar, will share insights, with Scotland’s Chief Plant Health Officer closing the event. Held on January 24 at the Apex City Quay Hotel, the conference offers networking and workshops, with free entry for SACAPP members and ticketed entry for others.
Prof Andy Robinson’s bulletin titled “Glyphosate on Potatoes” highlights the risks of glyphosate herbicide on potatoes, a crop particularly vulnerable to it. Low-level exposure can cause decreased yield and quality, with symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and tuber defects. Contamination may arise from drift, tank residues, or misapplication. Robinson underscores the need for proper application techniques and mitigation to prevent glyphosate damage, and suggests testing for residues in suspected cases.
The potato industry in 2023 has been a landscape of innovation and adaptation as stakeholders across the globe respond to a wide array of trends and pressures. From the encroaching effects of climate change to technological advancements sweeping through the fields and supply chains, the industry has been shaped by the interplay of environmental, technological, and market dynamics. Potato News Today explores some of these factors in a comprehensive article based on news reports published in 2023.
Dutch farmers struggle with climate-change-induced extreme weather, leading to crop losses, especially potatoes, carrots, and sugar beets. Wageningen University research focuses on mitigating the effects of severe weather on soil and crop health. Strategies under exploration include utilizing lighter farming machinery and breeding resilient crop varieties. Challenges extend to spring-flowering bulbs, with efforts underway to manage water levels effectively. The university emphasizes the urgency of developing adaptive agricultural practices and crop varieties resistant to extreme conditions.
European farmers are protesting en masse against restrictive agricultural policies and economic struggles. France sees potential nationwide action over new taxes and regulations, while German farmers block Berlin, rejecting cuts to fuel subsidies. In Romania, farmers demand quicker subsidy payments and compensation. The EU offers a €500m aid package, but discontent persists, pressuring governments to reconsider their agricultural policies as widespread disruption and dissatisfaction among farmers grow.
Australia faces another potential potato shortage, just a year after the last crisis. Potato grower Terry Buckley highlights the industry’s susceptibility to extreme weather, with optimal growing temperatures between 20-30°C. Climatologists predict more heatwaves, intensifying the challenge. The industry, constrained by strict cultivation contracts and high production costs, considers exports as a buffer against domestic volatility, highlighting the precarious nature of agricultural sustainability amidst climate change.
‘Perceptions and emotions’: How consumers in the U.S. and Switzerland view New Genomic Techniques in agriculture
Scientists from ETH Zurich, Arizona State University and the University of Oregon studied U.S. and Swiss attitudes toward agricultural New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). Approximately 50% of survey participants viewed NGTs like blight-resistant potatoes and gluten-free wheat positively; emotional response influenced acceptance, with Swiss showing more skepticism due to stricter regulations. Preferences for organic food did not correlate with NGT acceptance, suggesting the need for the organic sector to reassess consumer expectations in the face of new technologies.
The BBC reports that Albert Bartlett is in talks to buy The Jersey Royal Company from Produce Investments. A renowned potato supplier with extensive farming operations, Albert Bartlett has been associated with Jersey potatoes for generations and has infrastructure on the island since 2008. The Jersey Royal Company has specialized in these potatoes for over two decades.
Western (Chongqing) Science City has introduced a Potato Seed Virus Nano Microsphere Immunoassay Rapid Diagnostic Kit, designed by Professor Lyu Dianqiu’s team. This significant development offers quick, efficient diagnosis of potato viruses, delivering results in 5 minutes, including for PVX and PVY – far faster than old methods. With high sensitivity and cost-effectiveness, it’s suited for field use, boosting potato quality and yields in China’s major potato region. The kit has reached international markets, aiding Belt and Road Initiative countries.