The release of the end-March stocks estimate did enable the UK domestic market to encapsulate the partial impact that the coronavirus is having on the potato industry. However, it does not allow us to paint the whole picture as we finish this marketing year and head into next season. Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, wrote the following report that we gladly re-publish here.
Organizations in the News
In a news release issued by Potatoes New Brunswick, the association says delays rolling out a COVID-19-related support program for Canadian agriculture may spell doom for potato farmers. While the government delays, millions of pounds of potatoes are sitting in storage and starting to rot, Potatoes New Brunswick says in its release. Early last month, the government announced a $50-million Surplus Food Purchase Program intended to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on farmers.
With the Farmers to Families Food Box Program underway across the country, companies are busy packing and sending fresh produce to food banks. Chris Koger of The Packer provides a round-up of recent COVID-19-related news. As far as potatoes are concerned, Koger writes that Potatoes USA is connecting with industry members through a new video series, Keeping It Current, to explain what the organization has been doing during the pandemic.
Wisconsin spuds had a shaky start to the COVID-19 pandemic, but high consumer demand has put potatoes in a good spot, says the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The retail demand increased tremendously with the advent of COVID,” Executive Director Tamas Houlihan said. “Grocery store sales were through the roof, people were stocking up, and they weren’t buying the usual 5 and 10 pound bags. They were buying as much as they could.”
Always working to develop the “perfect” russet, the Potato Variety Management Institute’s main mission is to promote new varieties of potatoes in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and beyond. PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons says it’s what they coordinate from their operation based in Bend, Oregon
INTERPOM 2020, Europe’s most specialised indoor trade show for the entire potato industry. The 20th edition of INTERPOM will therefore go ahead, but opening days will be changed and the event will comply with the COVID-19 health and safety measures,” the organizers of the event say. So, we will now be happy to welcome you and yours on Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 November 2020 at Kortrijk Xpo.”
Hot potato Bud the Spud will make his British television debut this summer as part of a £100,000 marketing push. AHDB says in a news release that it has refreshed the successful More Than a Bit on the Side campaign to support retail sales of potatoes in the wake of COVID-19. The tongue-in-cheek campaign, which features saucy character Bud alongside a range of suggestive slogans, aims to inspire home cooks to add an extra potato meal to their weekly repertoire.
On June 2, Washington State potato growers will reach mission to get 1 million pounds of potatoes to those in need
The Washington State Commission says on its Facebook channel that it is excited to announce that the Washington State potato growers will reach their mission to get 1 million pounds of potatoes that were scheduled to be processed to those in need on June 2 at 11am. The Washington State Potato Commission thank all those who have helped out along this journey to 1 MILLION POUNDS. The volunteers, those who donated there space, their time, the donations to the GoFundMe account, the food banks that made the trips to pick up pallets of potatoes.
In a press release issued today, the organizing committee of the Potato Europe 2020 event announced that the event was regretfully cancelled due to concerns regarding the health safety of participants. The event was scheduled to take place on 2 and 3 September 2020 at Villers-Saint-Christophe in France. The next Potato Europe event is scheduled to take place in the Netherlands in September 2021.
As Alberta’s potato industry in Canada reels from the devastation of COVID-19, one industry spokesperson says he is worried the mental health and wellness of farmers could be at stake. Terence Hochstein, executive director for the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA), said recent blows to potato farms have stoked his concerns for farm families. Hochstein said the industry is sitting on some 100,000 tons of potatoes right now that need to be processed by September.
Secretariat of Europatat: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, European potato traders have been working around the clock not only to keep the potato supply chain running but also to help combat Covid-19. In this article you can take a look at those Europatat’s members actions that have been carried out all around Europe in the past weeks. We would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to all of you. You are our #foodheroes!
Potatoes New Zealand is asking the New Zealand government to give urgent consideration to imposing short-term measures limiting the importation into New Zealand of heavily discounted frozen potato chips to avoid a food security threat. This follows the Australian Potato Industry’s move to do the same. Globally, the disruption of supply chains, and particularly sales to hospitality, by virtue of COVID-19 restrictions has led to the complete collapse of potato prices in major production centres, in particular the European Union (EU).
Eye on Potatoes Podcast: In discussion with Congressman Mike Simpson and NPC CEO Kam Quarles about COVID-19
Congressman Mike Simpson and the entire Idaho Congressional delegation are championing policy solutions to support the nation’s struggling potato industry. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles calls in from D.C. to discuss the $300 million in additional potato purchases the industry needs to help bring supply and demand back into balance.
Recently, some of Alberta’s ag industry leaders thought of an option to assist two producer groups hard hit by the effects of COVID-19. Many Alberta potato growers have a surplus of their crop as a result of the shutdown of restaurants and other businesses that use large quantities of potatoes. Alberta beef producers faced delays getting their cattle to processing plants because of shutdowns in late April.
Consumers in Belgium might have noticed that in most supermarkets currently also packed early potatoes originating from the Mediterranean area are being offered. The Flemish media in Belgium have given attention sincere attention to this.. Belgapom recently presented an explanation for this phenomenon.
Australian potato growers are digging in for an anti-dumping fight with Europe as it reportedly threatens to flood the local market with frozen French fries. AUSVEG said potato growers faced big losses if large volumes of processed potatoes were imported from Europe as a consequence of a €650 million ($1.08 billion) COVID-19 assistance package.
The world-wide coronavirus pandemic is impacting U.S. potato exports, as seen in the figures for March, according to Potatoes USA. In a press release issued today, the organization says U.S. exports of frozen potato products were off 12% in March 2020 compared to 2019. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were off 16%, and fresh were off 13% from the previous year.
Europatat welcomes ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy; calls on Commission to ensure coherent and realistic approach
Europatat welcomes the Farm to Fork Strategy published today by the European Commission. There is a need to secure a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, a message that the potato sector fully endorses, Europatat says. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets out regulatory and non-regulatory measures to make the EU food system a global standard for sustainability. In doing so, the Commission should take a pragmatic and realistic approach to this situation.
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.
Prince Edward Island’s Department of Agriculture has begun an education campaign to make sure gardeners understand the importance of growing blight-resistant varieties of tomatoes this spring. In 2015, there was a similar education campaign after a new aggressive strain of late blight devastated tomato crops the summer before. The strain, called US 23, primarily attacks tomatoes. But it’s also a concern for the province’s billion-dollar potato industry.
With COVID-19 closures in place all across the United States, and even the world, restaurant demand for potatoes has fallen. According to Frank Muir, CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, 60% of Idaho potatoes go to restaurants. “We’re trying to move crops in unprecedented times,” Muir said. “Prices were strong but they’ve been dipping. We can’t replace 60% of the food service loss.”
Potatoes New Zealand is seeking funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries for a nationwide project to transition crop production to more sustainable land management. In February Potatoes NZ adopted a new strategic objective of zero net emissions by 2050. It is now one of three central objectives for the sector including doubling export value by 2025 and increasing domestic value by 50% by 2025.
While many potato growers across the nation are being forced to mash their spuds into the ground, Wisconsin’s spud producers aren’t feeling as hard a hit from COVID-19 as their western counterparts. In big western potato producing states like Idaho, Washington and Oregon where the growing season is a month or two ahead of Wisconsin, some growers had to make the difficult decision to disc some fields of potatoes under. “It hasn’t been a huge problem in Wisconsin, but what is looming ahead is a flooding of the fresh market,” said Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association.
Stepping up to the plate: European Commission adopts market stabilisation measures in the potato sector to counter COVID-19 impact
The European Commission (EC) on May 4 announced the adoption of exceptional derogations from EU competition rules to allow certain types of cooperation in the potato sector, as well as for milk and milk products, and also live plants and flowers. This is part of a wider package to support the agri-food industry during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.