Organizations in the News

West European potato production under severe pressure: NEPG highlights extreme weather and seed shortages

Europe’s potato harvest was negatively impacted by heavy rainfall, causing difficulties in harvesting and potential supply shortages in the NEPG countries – Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and France. Though yields were good, the wet weather left about 1.4 million tonnes unharvested, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium. NEPG warns of increased risks and costs for farmers, deteriorating potato quality, and escalating market prices. Concerns are also rising over seed availability for the Spring 2024 season due to a reduction in seed production.

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Innovations and insights at the Ontario Potato Conference and AGM: Must-attend events for potato industry professionals

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks and the Ontario Potato Board, is set for February 29th in Guelph. Featuring a Late Blight Symposium and a growers’ panel, the conference will address 2023’s challenges and strategies for 2024. The event includes a Trade Show with new tech exhibitors. The Ontario Potato Board’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Dec 6 will feature a special zoom presentation by Dr. Nora Olsen on tips for managing compromised potatoes in storage.

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British potato industry encouraged to sign up to the first SPot Stores project

GB Potatoes, Potato Storage Insight, and SDF Agriculture have initiated the Strategic Potato Stores project to improve potato storage practices. The project, inspired by the SPot Farms model, encourages industry collaboration and practical research. It includes trials with various potato varieties and sprout suppressants, focusing on efficiency and profitability. Key activities include grower meetings, open days, and workshops in 2024, alongside evaluations of PCN-resistant varieties. This initiative emphasizes practical solutions and shared industry knowledge.

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Global food security and the power of potatoes: World Potato Congress webinar to provide insights

The World Potato Congress Inc. announces a webinar featuring WPC President Dr. Peter VanderZaag and Dr. André Devaux, focusing on the role of potatoes in global food security. The event, scheduled for November 28, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, will highlight the potato’s status as the world’s third most important food crop, its growing significance in developing regions, and the importance of scientific innovation for enhancing yield. Success stories and strategies for international collaboration in potato production will also be discussed.

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Crisis in Belgian potato industry brought on by extreme weather events

Belpotato details the severe impact of bad weather on Belgium’s potato harvest in a press release. Delayed planting led to a late harvest, with 20-25% of crops still unharvested. Heavy rains caused rotting and quality concerns, particularly in Flanders and Wallonia. The sector is taking measures to mitigate losses and ensure supply, with an emphasis on prompt stakeholder communication and efficient processing of harvestable potatoes. The situation poses challenges for some farmers to meet contractual obligations.

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Potato retail sales in the U.S. surge in recent quarter despite volume fluctuations

In the third quarter of 2023, potato retail sales in the U.S. increased by 9.5% compared to the same period last year, as reported by Potatoes USA. Despite a slight 1.7% drop in overall volume sales, fresh potato sales remained stable. Notable growth was seen in canned, frozen, and instant potato categories in dollar sales. Fresh potato prices rose to $1.12 per pound, a 6.3% increase from the previous year. Despite some fluctuations, the overall increase in dollar sales highlights the enduring appeal of potatoes among consumers.

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World Potato Congress bolsters global expertise with new International Advisors

The World Potato Congress Inc. (WPC) welcomes Douglas Harley and Derek Roulston as International Advisors. Harley, from Alexander Harley Seeds Ltd. in the UK, brings extensive experience in potato breeding and global export. Roulston, with a background in farming and development in Africa, contributes deep knowledge in potato seed production and international consulting. Their expertise is expected to greatly benefit the WPC, especially in the lead-up to the 12th Congress in Adelaide in 2024.

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Potato cyst nematodes threaten Scottish seed potato industry’s future

The UK potato farming sector, worth approximately £4.5 billion, is threatened by potato cyst nematodes (PCN), particularly in Scotland where 77% of Great Britain’s seed potatoes are produced. Dr. James Price of The James Hutton Institute, managing the Scottish PCN Working Group, highlights in the GB PCN Forum Newsletter the challenges posed by PCN, including drastic yield reductions and difficulties in control. Scottish legislation prohibits growing seed potatoes in PCN-infected land, yet PCN affects nearly 21,000 ha in Scotland.

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Green thumbs up: Potato Sustainability Alliance launches grower program for eco-friendly farming

The Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA) has launched a Grower Program to enhance sustainable farming. Utilizing the Cropwise Sustainability app, the program offers tools for growers to measure and improve their sustainability practices. Benefits include real-time insights, benchmark reports, and data control. Enrollment is simple, empowering growers to contribute to a more sustainable future for potato production. The PSA continues to lead the charge in eco-friendly agricultural advancements.

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FIWAP and PCA report on challenges and trends in the European potato sector in latest market report

According to the latest FIWAP/PCA market report. the European potato harvest is lagging due to colder tubers making drying difficult. Belgium has 15-20% left to harvest, with varying percentages across Europe. The average potato yield is slightly down from last season but above the five-year average. On the futures market, potato prices remained stable, but the harvest delay and weather are causing market tensions in the European market, while North America is facing an oversupply.

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Irish and UK potato harvests face unprecedented challenges amid wet weather

Amidst thriving retail demand for potatoes in Ireland, the harvest season faces severe setbacks due to heavy rainfall and flooding. Over 60% of crops remain unharvested, with significant losses already reported. The UK faces similar challenges, halting harvest activities. While market demand remains steady, exports to the Canary Islands are under scrutiny, with shipments rejected due to excessive soil content. The potato industry in both regions braces for further challenges.

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From the Andes to China: British scientist ‘grows’ potatoes at the foot of the Great Wall

At the foot of the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing, British scientist Philip Kear is cultivating disease-resistant potatoes within the greenhouse of the China Center for Asia and the Pacific (CCCAP) of the International Potato Center (CIP). Kear aims to enhance potato productivity in China and globally. The initiative also seeks to identify genes resistant to various diseases, fostering international cooperation to combat challenges like potato late blight.

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Potatoes: The produce powerhouse driving retail success in the U.S.

Fresh potatoes have emerged as a consistent sales force in the U.S. produce sector, offering retailers vast opportunities for increased customer interaction. Data reveals that effective merchandising significantly boosts potato sales. With the highest household penetration among vegetables, purchased on average 10 times annually, potatoes enhance sales for other items too. Their contribution to the produce department ensures overall store success, making them a valuable asset for retailers.

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New Zealand’s seed potato revolution: Ensuring top-tier quality for growers

The New Zealand Seed Potato Certification Scheme, established in 1948, ensures high-quality seed potatoes for growers. Managed by Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ), the scheme underwent significant enhancements in 2021 to improve seed traceability and quality. While 95% of seed production is in Canterbury, the scheme’s success is attributed to rigorous inspections and a dedicated PNZ team. Despite challenges, the industry’s commitment ensures New Zealand’s prominence in the global potato market.

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Navigating late blight challenges: EuroBlight opens registration for its 19th Workshop set for May 2024

EuroBlight has commenced registration for its 19th workshop, scheduled from 13-16 May 2024 in Lunteren, Netherlands. Hosted at “de Werelt” conference centre, the event will focus on late blight control strategies, host resistance breeding, and precision agriculture. With a cap of 100 participants, priority will be given to presenters. The workshop will also address the significant late blight epidemics from 2023. Registration details are available on the EuroBlight website.

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Unlocking prosperity: Nigeria’s comprehensive National Potato Strategy unveiled

In October 2023, Nigeria introduced the National Potato Strategy, aiming to rejuvenate its potato industry. This strategy seeks to ensure food and nutrition security, promote trade surplus, and enhance incomes. Recognizing the challenges in the potato value chain, the plan involves collaboration among key stakeholders to maximize their combined strengths. The launch event highlighted the untapped potential of potato commercialization and emphasized the importance of quality seed access, strategic partnerships, and sector-wide coordination.

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Latest UPGC newsletter provides insights into potato trends in North America and Europe

The latest newsletter from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) provides insights into the current potato market in Canada, the United States, and Europe. In 2023, the North American potato market is poised for growth, with the U.S. expecting a 9.5% increase in production. Canada’s output is also on the rise, led by provinces like Manitoba. However, challenges like excessive rainfall in some regions could impact yields. Meanwhile, Europe’s market remains steady, with Dutch yields showing resilience.

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‘Trick-or-Tater’: Potatoes bring surprise and delight to Halloween festivities

American neighborhoods are embracing a new Halloween trend: potatoes. Potatoes USA reports that this vegetable is now part of crafts, games, and even as trick-or-treat gifts. The tradition of carving jack-o’-lanterns originated with potatoes in Ireland. Today, people are reviving this by making “jack-o’-taters.” Potatoes are also used for crafting stamps. Marisa Stein of Potatoes USA highlights the deep-rooted connection between potatoes and Halloween, encouraging a blend of old and new traditions.

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Syngenta and The Sustainability Consortium collaborate to help growers with sustainability tracking

Syngenta, part of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), has integrated its Sustainable Outcomes in Agriculture (SOA) standard with TSC’s THESIS system, offering a comprehensive sustainability solution for growers. The Cropwise Sustainability mobile app facilitates this, enabling growers to monitor and share their regenerative practices progress. This collaboration streamlines sustainability reporting, with a focus on various sustainable outcomes, and fosters consistent reporting in the agricultural sector.

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UK: NFU Potato Policy Group chair addresses current season and plans for the next

Tim Rooke, NFU Potato Policy Group Chair, discussed the current potato lifting season, noting challenges from heavy rainfall and late planting but an unexpected yield recovery. He emphasized the importance of planning for the next season, especially with concerns about seed availability due to decreased planted seed areas and reduced European imports. Rooke also highlighted the resumption of seed potato exports to Northern Ireland as a positive development.

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National Potato Day in Ireland: A call to support growers amid challenges

On National Potato Day, IFA National Potato Chair, Sean Ryan, urges consumers and retailers to support Irish potato growers. The Irish potato sector, worth over €105M, faces challenges like declining grower numbers, land scarcity, and rising costs. Despite hardships, including a tough harvest season, growers maintain quality produce. The day emphasizes potatoes’ nutritional value, targeting the youth for its versatility and affordability. Ambassadors Gina and Karol Daly, with significant social media presence, support the campaign.

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Alberta leads the way: The rise of the potato industry in 2022 highlighted in report

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.

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World Potato Congress Inc. welcomes Blair Richardson as a Board Member

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.

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‘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.

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GB Potatoes appoints new CEO

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.

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