Between May and July this year AHDB’s marketing team ran a successful campaign which aimed to keep potatoes relevant to consumers while educating them about their versatility, ease of use and health benefits, the organization says in a recent news article. In response to the market dynamics created by COVID-19, AHDB says there was a need to create additional demand in retail and drive volume in sales to attempt to make up for some of the losses through foodservice. Bud the Spud’ was part of a marketing campaign (More Than a Bit on the Side) with proven positive results.
Organizations in the News
On Friday, the National Potato Council welcomed an announcement by President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue on Sept. 17 that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Signup for CFAP 2 will begin Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 11, 2020.
Last week, the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) association announced their harvest estimate for the 2020/2021 season. They reckon potato yields will be between 27 and 27,3 million tons. That’s for the five most important potato-growing countries in North-western Europe. “These results correspond with the information we got from various parties,” Romain Cools of Belgapom, in Belgium told Sharon de Ridder of AGF Netherlands . “According to some, this could become a disastrous year. But, the yields are actually surprisingly higher than many estimated.”
Following eight years at the helm of Potatoes South Australia, Robbie Davis will be stepping down from her role of Chief Executive at the end of 2020. The change comes as the Association moves into new territory with a greater emphasis on Brand Australia and growing national significance of the world’s 3rd largest food crop to the Australian horticulture industry. Despite this inevitable and exciting new challenge, Robbie believes it is the right time to say farewell to the representative body she has built with the help of a band of dedicated stakeholders from all sectors.
Potato consumption has remained resilient in Britain over the past six months, despite closures in the foodservice market, according to figures released by AHDB. Strong retail sales led to an overall 12% volume increase for potatoes in the six months to 9 August, according to AHDB estimates based on Kantar data. Over the 24 weeks ending (w/e) 9 August, retail sales volumes of potatoes and potato products rose well ahead of the total food and non-alcoholic drink uplift. The return of big fast food brands in June helped lift takeaway volumes of potatoes.
The Irish Federation of Agriculture (IFA) reports in its weekly market update report that liftings continue at pace this week across Ireland as weather conditions have improved. The IFA says conditions are still challenging in parts of the country and growers are behind schedule at this stage. According to the IFA, the first EU 27 production estimate puts the total crop at 54.8mt’s which is about 3.7mt’s higher than last year. The total planted area at 1.655 million ha’s is about 26,000 ha’s higher than last year.
If you’re a British farmer looking to engage with your local school, AHDB says it is ready to help. In a recent news release, AHDB says it provides tools and resources that help farmers educate schoolchildren about farming and where food comes from. There are five different ways farmers can help children learn more about farming.
Total losses from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the Washington State’s potato industry is estimated to top $1 billion, according to a study by Washington State University. Farmers have lost about $29.2 million from the drop in demand and quality of the 2019 harvest, according to the release. Acreage for the 2020 fall harvest dropped 13%, which represents a drop of more than 729,000 tons of potatoes, according to the commission.
With the coronavirus pandemic hitting the UK domestic potato trade, we have estimated a 1% drop year-on-year in the GB potato area for 2020/21, with the provisional area standing at 119Kha. AHDB market analysts (Potatoes and Cereals) Alex Cook and Anthony Speight prepared a report in which they take a closer look at how things are stacking up for the British chipping market at this time. In the report they forecast Britain’s potential chipping area for the 2020/21 marketing year; review pricing of chipping potatoes since covid-19, and forecast demand going forward and how this could affect the ex-farm price of chipping potatoes.
Despite 2020 being a difficult year in many respects, San Luis Valley potato growers have been able to raise a very good looking crop this season, reports Rebecca Copley in this article published in The Conejos County Citizen. As farmers get ready to head into harvest, James Ehrlich, Executive Director for the Colorado Potato Administration Committee, shared that it is hopeful. “I think potato farmers have had good prices and demand. People are eating at home. All these signs are good for us. Our crops should be better than last year for sure. It would really surprise me if it wasn’t. Prices are strong. I think we’re set for a pretty good year,” said Ehrlich.
A new strategy and improved communication with levy payers on how their money is spent are just two of the significant changes AHDB has pledged to make. This follows the Government’s response to the Request for Views, published earlier this year. “We have listened carefully to the views expressed by levy payers in response to the Government-led Request for Views, and we are now committed to some key reforms to ensure we are fit for purpose in the changing times British agriculture is facing,” said AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir.
NEPG urges growers to reduce planted area in 2021, although current harvest total expected to be average
The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) estimates that the total and final potato harvest for its members for the 2020 season will be on par with the 5 year average total. NEPG says the total planted area has increased with 1,4 % in 2020 compared to last year’s planted area. It estimates the total harvest to be 27,9 million tons, compared with 26,9 million last year. NEPG is advising its growers in member countries to “take control and be masters of their own destiny”. Growers are urged to reduce next year’s planted area.
In a news story published by iAfrica, titled “Urgent Action Needed To Protect SA’s Potato Industry”, it is said that South Africa is a key destination for processed potato product exports from the EU “where there is a history of dumping”. This is set to have a negative impact on the country’s agricultural sector and surrounding communities, according to the news article. André Jooste, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (PSA), is quoted as saying that the local potato industry has already suffered significantly from a decrease in demand as a result of COVID-19 related regulations, such as the closure of restaurants and fast food outlets, restricted trade and movement of informal traders.
According to AHDB in the UK, the 2020/21 potato storage season is proving to be one of the most challenging yet for the British potato industry. With storage season fast approaching, harvest provides the best opportunity to familiarise yourself with your crop and refine your storage plans accordingly. In this article, specialists at AHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research Unit are providing the key aspects that growers and storage operators should focus on during the onset on the 2020/21 storage season.
Processing potatoes supply is still outweighing the reduced demand on the domestic market. Given that most planting decisions had been made this year when the pandemic hit, this demand erosion has had minimal impact on the GB potato area. Indeed, the current estimate of 119Kha is only 1% back on 2019. In recent years, the processing area has been increasing steadily, standing at 37.5Kha last year. Using the proportion the processing area made up of the total GB area last year (31%), we could estimate 2020 area to stand around 37Kha.
Potato LEAF awards Texas A&M’s Jeewan Pandey for research to speed up the development of new varieties
The Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is pleased to announce Jeewan Pandey, a third-year graduate student Texas A&M University’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, as the recipient of its 2020-21 Academic Scholarship. Pandey’s research involves the application of DNA-based markers in potato breeding to speed up the development of new varieties that would require fewer pesticide applications.
The Board of Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, is pleased to announce the appointment of Berta Redondo Benito as the new Secretary General of the association, with effect as of 1st of September 2020. She will succeed Raquel Izquierdo de Santiago who has successfully led the association for the last 6 years. The Board and the whole membership of Europatat warmly thank Raquel for her excellent work during these years.
A group of U.S. Senators is encouraging action to be taken in the potato dispute with Mexico. In a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the lawmakers urged more support for U.S. exports of fresh potatoes. Mexico was the third most important destination for potato exports in the marketing year 2019, valued at $239 million. According to Potatoes USA, the volume of American exports of frozen potato products increased 12 percent to Mexico for the marketing year 2020, after a 20 percent retaliatory tariff resulted in a disappointing 2019.
Covid-19 has shaken up all predictions and profoundly changed the fundamentals of the 2019 campaign in France and the rest of Europe. On the French fresh market, it has meant a revival in terms of household consumption. For the industry, on the other hand, it has caused factories to slow down due to the very sharp decline in restaurant activity all over the world. So says the National Union of French Potato Producers (UNPT) in a recent press release. The organization urges the industry to stay focused on quality products, and not quantity.
Free-buy potato markets in the UK continue to see pressure on prices. Increasingly available supply for markets has met a widespread muted level of demand. Trade has remained on a steady level, consisting of mostly repeat orders. Processing markets have been reported as steady this week, with some better levels of demand for frozen potato products following the government ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher scheme. Processing markets look to the return of education sectors for an increased level of demand in the next few weeks.
Potato growers in the UK are at risk of virus and disease threat if they do not follow an integrated approach to new desiccation regimes, say experts working on the third year of desiccation trials taking place across AHDB Farm Excellence sites. Results and observations at the trial sites have shown that the slower ‘kill’ achieved by the chemical and mechanical alternatives to diquat means that green stems and leaves can still be present up to three weeks after desiccation sprays. Even very small amounts of ‘green material’ remain a viable target for virus-carrying aphids and diseases.
The Ministry of Health is moving to counter criticism that it is using its powers to exempt trucks and workers moving in and out of Auckland to restrict workers going to jobs in potato crisp factories. The chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council, Katherine Rich, is particularly critical that the role of granting the exemption to cross in and out of the Auckland Council region has shifted from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to the Ministry of Health.