Organizations in the News

Aussie potato growers spitting chips over European fries dumping threat

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.

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US potato exports begin to slow

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.

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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.

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The potato portal: New buyer and grower ‘match-making’ website goes live

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.

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Canada: Prince Edward Island potato industry wants tomato growers to be ‘good neighbours’

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.

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‘To move crops in unprecedented times’: The COVID impact on Idaho potato farmers

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.”

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Potatoes New Zealand gearing up to achieve zero emissions goal

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.

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Wisconsin potato growers not completely fried by the coronavirus

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.

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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.

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Canada’s Alberta potato growers ‘unlikely to benefit’ from govt COVID-19 funding

Recent funding announcements from the provincial and federal governments will do very little to help local potato farmers, says Potato Growers of Alberta executive director Terence Hochstein. The province’s announcement on Thursday it would be increasing AgriStability payouts to help potato growers will not benefit the vast majority of producers, says Hochstein, because most are not eligible for AgriStabilty in any event, especially those who farm on irrigated acres and produce crops other than potatoes.

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AHDB set to launch online marketing tool to help cut surplus potato stocks

The AHDB in the UK is set to launch a marketing tool to help shift surplus potato stocks caused by a drop-off in demand since the Covid-19 lockdown. Food service sector demand for potatoes collapsed when the measures forced the closure of commercial outlets such as restaurants and many chip shops, reports Jonathan Riley for Farmers Weekly. To help move some of the surplus, the AHDB has set up a website, to be launched next week once final security testing has been completed. The aim is to provide a matchmaking service between growers with surpluses in their stores and potential buyers.

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CIP and HZPC collaborate to develop new potato varieties suitable for Southeast Asia

This project builds on ongoing work by the International Potato Center (CIP) developing early-maturing potato varieties that are tolerant to high temperatures and resistant to major virus diseases, thus suitable for growing in tropical climates.In close collaboration with the Netherlands-based global potato seed company HZPC, this project is developing early-maturing varieties with good characteristics for cooking and processing that would be suitable for the local environmental conditions. Five advanced clone candidate varieties will be cultivated and evaluated at high and low altitudes in Vietnam.

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An industry in need: Canadian Federation of Agriculture reaches out to govt in heartfelt video message

In a heartfelt message titled “An Urgent Message from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture”, the CFA reaches out to the federal government in the country, voicing the hardships that many farmers experience at this time. In the opening lines, it is said: This year, Canadian farmers are facing some very challenging times and they need your help. Farmers in Canada grow food not only for Canadians, but for people all over the world. It urges Canadians to visit www.supportcanadianfood.ca.

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Webinar on the diversified use of potato apical cuttings now online

Earlier this week, the World Potato Congress Inc (WPC) hosted another edition of its webinars, featuring Dr. Monica Parker. She presented on “Diversified Use of Apical Cuttings to Boost Potato Seed Systems“. The webinar is now available on YouTube. It can also be viewed below, or on the WPC website here, where links are available to previous webinars as well.

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Potatoes USA: Total retail dollar sales increased by 15.5% in third marketing quarter

IRI data for the third quarter of the marketing year (January – March 2020) showed growth in both dollars and volume for total potato sales at retail, Potatoes USA says. Total dollar sales increased by 15.5% and volume increased by 15%. Every category increased in both dollar and volume sales except for deli-prepared sides. Fresh potato sales also increased in dollar and volume sales by 19.2% and 15%, respectively, with all potato types increasing in volume sales.

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Britain’s AHDB announces extended marketing campaign and trade portal to help shift spuds

AHDB released plans for an extended consumer marketing campaign, and a portal to help put the growers and buyers of potatoes in touch. AHDB says it is increasing consumer marketing activity for the year ahead, with a lockdown boost through social media, advertising, promotion via catch-up TV and activity within retail outlets. A trade portal will be launched this week where wholesale potato buyers and merchants can post requirements for potatoes, and growers can post available stocks.

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NPC CEO on COVID-19 and its impact on the potato industry

The Eye on Potatoes Podcast is brought to you by the National Potato Council. This is the place to tune in for conversations with growers and thought leaders on advocacy, production and all things potatoes. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles and Eye on Potatoes host Lane Nordlund sat down during this podcast to discuss the latest on COVID-19, its impact on the potato industry, the government response, and how NPC and its state partners are supporting growers in this unprecedented time.

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Idaho potatoes to be sold online?

According to a Capital Press report, the Idaho Potato Commission is considering advertising on major online sales platforms such as Amazon, Walmart and Kroger Co. websites. “If we ran a program starting in May through August, it could cost a little over $100,000,” Commission CEO Frank Muir said. Costs would be covered by recently lower spending on travel and on certain promotion and incentive programs. He has not yet made a formal recommendation to commissioners.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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