In 2022, Alberta’s potato industry showcased unprecedented growth, contributing $2.87 billion to Canada’s economy. Representing 150 growers, the Potato Growers of Alberta highlighted the industry’s expansion potential. With Alberta accounting for 60% of Canada’s net international seed potato exports, the region’s high-quality production and collaboration among stakeholders have positioned it as a dominant force in the potato market. The future looks promising for Alberta’s potato sector.
Organizations in the News
The World Potato Congress (WPC) has introduced Blair Richardson as its newest board director. WPC President, Dr. Peter VanderZaag, expressed his enthusiasm for Richardson’s addition, highlighting his previous role as an International Advisor to WPC. Richardson, the CEO of Potatoes USA since 2013, has extensive experience in the potato industry and has served on various industry boards. He is an advocate for the potato’s reputation and employs proactive marketing strategies.
‘Potatoes Forever!’ campaign launched in Europe to promote sustainable practices in the potato industry
Europe has initiated a €3.2 million “POTATOES FOREVER!” campaign, spanning three years in France and Italy, to educate the public about sustainable practices in the potato sector. Funded 80% by the European Union, the campaign aims to highlight the industry’s efforts in biodiversity protection, water conservation, and eco-friendly farming. The initiative responds to consumers’ growing demand for transparency in food production and sustainability.
GB Potatoes has named Scott Walker as its part-time CEO, effective from 2nd October. Formerly the Chief Executive of NFU Scotland for 25 years, Scott brings extensive experience to the role. He will also continue his part-time work with the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, focusing on government and supply chain engagement. Scott emphasized collaboration as vital for GB Potatoes’ mission to ensure a sustainable future for potato production. Mark Taylor, GBP Chair, expressed optimism for 2024 with Scott’s appointment.
The National Potato Council’s ‘Spud Nation Report’, published earlier this year, provides a detailed overview of the US potato industry. It highlights a rising demand for potatoes, with sales reaching $4.8 billion in 2022. The report discusses production trends, export-import dynamics, changing consumer preferences towards organic and non-GMO potatoes, sustainability efforts, technological advancements in food safety, marketing strategies, policy implications, labor challenges, and research initiatives.
The “Eye on Potatoes” podcast discussed the upcoming 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The U.S. potato industry aims to ensure accurate potato nutrition information is considered in the guidelines. NPC CEO Kam Quarles provided testimony to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The podcast also featured Beth Johnson, a food policy expert with over 25 years of experience, who has been working with NPC to promote the benefits of potatoes.
Unseasonal heatwaves in Ireland and the UK have temporarily dampened the potato market. While Ireland sees a recovery with a rising demand for Kerr Pinks, known for their excellent eating quality, yields remain inconsistent. Early crops in Ireland fare better than the later ones. The UK market faces pricing pressures due to the weather. In Europe, seed availability might influence next season’s planting. Despite current price pressures, demand from Poland, Spain, and Italy is anticipated to grow as the season advances.
Despite facing challenging weather and late planting, the 2023 potato production shows promise. The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) predicts a harvest of 23 million tonnes, surpassing 2022’s yield and matching 2021’s. However, late blight poses significant threats in certain regions and tuber blight, will is expected to affect net production. With increased processing needs and promising export prospects, Europe’s potato market remains resilient.
Jacob Meeuwsen, a Ph.D. student at Washington State University, has been awarded the 2023-24 Academic Scholarship by the Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF). This $10,000 scholarship recognizes his research focus on intelligent potato water-use efficiency and land-use management practices. Meeuwsen aims to optimize predictive evapotranspiration and irrigation methods for potatoes, ultimately enhancing sustainability in the U.S. potato industry.
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.
A new body, the PCN Forum, has been launched to tackle the potato cyst nematode problem affecting nearly half of Britain’s ware potato lands. Led by GB Potatoes, the forum aims to unite industry and academic experts in a coordinated strategy against the pest, estimated to cost the industry £31 million annually. The initiative marks a significant step towards sustainable agriculture in the UK.
Following the end of the summer break, Ireland sees a surge in retail demand and home consumption, leading to scarcity of old season Rooster crop while boosting the new season crop market. However, inconsistent yields and growing costs pose challenges. In Europe, favorable weather aids crop growth, though central France uses irrigation for crop lifting. Demand for Scotland’s early maincrop whites surpasses supply, while UK wrestles with quality issues in M. Piper crops.
Introducing the GB PCN Forum: GB Potatoes and CUPGRA unite against Potato Cyst Nematode threat in Britain
The British potato industry faces a significant threat from the Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). To address this, GB Potatoes and CUPGRA have established the GB PCN Forum. This collaborative initiative aims to consolidate industry-wide efforts, bringing together experts and stakeholders to devise a comprehensive strategy against PCN. The forum emphasizes research, breeding resistant varieties, and practical solutions, marking a pivotal step in safeguarding the future of the British potato sector.
Scotland’s renowned seed potato industry faces challenges, with only 186 registered growers remaining. A report from The Scottish Farmer emphasizes the need for unity and collaboration. The recent split from AHDB’s levy-backed services raises concerns about funding for essential research and market expansion. Experts stress the importance of global market penetration and representation at key trade events to ensure the sector’s sustainable future.
Potato growers in Britain are being urged to unite for stronger representation. A report from The Scottish Farmer emphasized the need for a dedicated organization to champion potato producers’ interests. However, the response from growers has been tepid. Mike Wilson, chair of the Seed Potato Organisation, stressed the importance of collective action, especially in regulatory discussions. The industry’s future hinges on growers’ commitment to a unified front.
South Africa showcases its deep-rooted appreciation for the potato as it eagerly anticipates National Potato Day on August 19. This event not only celebrates the culinary versatility of the tuber but also highlights its significance in the nation’s diet and culture. As the day approaches, South Africans are preparing to honor the humble spud, reflecting its cherished status from farm to feast. The nation’s potato pride is truly unparalleled.
PEI potato wart threat and policy updates: NPC tackles agricultural challenges in latest podcast episode
In a recent “Eye on Potatoes” podcast episode, the National Potato Council (NPC) discussed pressing agricultural topics during Congress’s August recess. Key points included potential amendments to the FY24 Ag Appropriations Bill, efforts towards a new five-year Farm Bill, and concerns about the spread of potato wart from Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
‘Global Ode to the Potato’: World Potato Congress advocates for International Potato Day at FAO Conference
The World Potato Congress (WPC) emphasized the global significance of potatoes at the 43rd FAO Conference in Rome. WPC Director, André Devaux, highlighted the potato’s role in food security, sustainable agriculture, and its potential to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. The WPC, alongside international partners, is advocating for an annual International Potato Day on May 30th. This initiative aims to celebrate the potato’s contributions and address rising global food demands.
Statistics Canada released their first estimate of potato acreage in Canada as a result of data obtained from their survey of potato growers in Canada. The 2023 potato acreage is estimated at 396,922 acres. According to UPGC, this is a 2.5% increase over 2023, 9,819 acres more than last year. In 2022 acreage had been very flat over 2021. The largest acreage increase in 2023 was reported in Alberta. Most regions reported differences in acreage figures depending on the sector.
The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) reports a 2-3% increase in ware potato acreage, despite challenging early season conditions. Concerns arise over a decrease in seed availability for next spring, potentially impacting 2024’s production. Planting delays due to rainfall and other factors may also affect 2023’s yield. Despite these uncertainties, demand for processed potato products remains strong, with processors keen to secure supplies for the foreseeable future.
The National Potato Council (NPC) and the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) hosted their annual Agency Farm Tour for USDA and EPA staff. The tour aimed to strengthen relationships and educate agency participants on commercial potato production practices, including the use of federally regulated pesticides and Integrated Pest Management. Demonstrations included seed treatment, irrigation-mounted imaging cameras, drone and see-and-spray cameras, fumigation and chemigation equipment, and monitoring devices and models. The event was sponsored by Potatoes USA.
The World Potato Congress has appointed Jianmin Xie as an International Advisor. Xie, who is the Director of the CIP-China Center for Asia and the Pacific, will contribute to advancing the understanding of potatoes in this region. With over 30 years of experience in agriculture and rural development, Xie will lead research and innovation strategies, oversee fundraising, and ensure impactful research delivery. The WPC community looks forward to working with Xie for the upcoming 12th World Potato Congress in Adelaide, Australia.
The Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) has released a study, ‘The Alberta Potato Industry – Growing Success in 2022’, revealing significant growth in the province’s potato industry. The report shows an economic contribution of $2.87B to Alberta and Canada, 9390 full-time jobs, $662M in employment income, $1.33B to GDP, and $87M in tax revenue. The study, completed by Serecon Inc. and Nichols Applied Management, positions Alberta as the largest potato sector in Canada.