The National Potato Council in the US issued the following statement welcoming U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s announcement of the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Various elements will require improvements or additional resources in order to provide relief for the potato industry.
Organizations in the News
The head of the National Potato Council in the US says it’s yet to be determined how much money the industry needs to be made whole in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns, Capital Press reports. However, “what we have identified is that there is between $750 million and $1.5 billion of products that are clogged up in the potato pipeline right now,” council CEO Kam Quarles said.
The World Potato Congress Inc (WPC) is pleased to continue its webinar series, and in its next webinar it will feature Dr. Monica Parker, presenting on “Diversified Use of Apical Cuttings to Boost Potato Seed Systems”. Addressing seed shortages for potato is a perennial challenge in many potato-producing countries, DrParker says. Addressing seed shortages for potato is a perennial challenge in many potato-producing countries, Dr Parker says.
In a message from Jane King, CEO of AHDB, she says: “To our farmers, growers and supply-chain businesses. We are all living in the most extraordinary of times. To bring all the latest advice together in one place, AHDB has created specific coronavirus-related pages on its website where you can access the latest Government advice for employers and employees, links to other industry organisations, frequently asked questions and a wealth of tools and business information.
In the latest Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Potato Market Report, it is said that the retail trade remains strong albeit slightly erratic following the Easter break. The processing sector remains at a standstill although more restaurants are opening on a ‘take-away’ basis following the announcement of further restrictions. Meanwhile plantings continue at pace across the country.
Potato crisis in Washington state: 1 billion of 3 billion pounds in storage might not be used, says exec director
The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has slammed broadside against the Washington potato and dairy industries, with both facing the prospect of dumping product because markets have disappeared, reports Thomas Clouse of The Spokesman-Review. Washington growers have 1 billion pounds of potatoes in storage with no place to sell them, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission. “That’s a lot of potatoes,” Voigt said. “Every man, woman and child in Washington state would have to eat 200 pounds of potatoes between now and the Fourth of July.”
This week AHDB Potatoes in the UK published a podcast outlining some of its analysis into consumer and wholesale markets, our thinking on consumer marketing and some of the ways that the lockdown has affected AHDB’s services to the industry. In this episode you will hear, among others, from Dr Sophie Churchill, chair of the Potato Board, who will offer an overview of the work that’s underway to support the British potato industry.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic brought physical meetings to a standstill, the board of directors of United Potato Growers of Canada held a face-to-face meeting in Ottawa to review potato stocks and discuss the market situation across the country. General Manager Kevin MacIsaac noted stocks nationally were down 1.9 per cent or one million hundredweight over the three-year-average as of March 1. However, the former chair of the PEI Potato Board noted Island holdings were up 3.9 per cent.
Belgium’s potato industry is asking for the goverment to chip in and help it survive the coronavirus lockdown. While the country is well-known for its fries, the industry has few clients at home. On average, 90 per cent of potatoes are exported. But with travel bans and restaurants closed around the world, the food supply chain has been disrupted.
The coronavirus outbreak has completely shifted market dynamics for potatoes and has brought about many storage-related questions as a result. Read AHDB’s storage FAQs for some answers.
Last year, despite the difficult growing conditions as a result of the extreme heat and drought during both the 2018-2019 and the 2019-2020 seasons, the Belgian potato-processing industry once again improved the record for processed potatoes. Almost 5.3 million tonnes of potatoes processed into fries, mashed potato products, crisps, flakes and granules or precooked potatoes meant an increase of 3.8% compared to the figures for 2018.
In this very insightful article by Steven Evans, Senior Consumer Insight Manager at AHDB in the UK, the author analyzes how Covid-19 has changed our eating habits, using estimates from Kantar Worldpanel that look at the potential rise per week of meals consumed during lockdown. These predictions relate to the current hard lockdown scenario faced by consumers, and depending on how stringently lockdown measures are enforced, we can expect to see a range of changes for a prolonged period.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to make its presence known in all facets of daily life, including agriculture. That extends to some supply and demand economics lessons for Northwest apple and potato growers. Some of the largest potato processors in the world are dramatically cutting back their contracted acres with farmers this spring. That’s largely because the global pandemic has closed restaurants, and therefore demand for frozen french fries.
Farmers and growers from across Britain are hoping to inspire and educate children about food and where it comes from as a part of a new #LockdownLearning project, which is being launched today. The free, online resource comes as thousands of parents are now home-schooling their children due to the coronavirus.
Scientists of the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews, are supporting a research project aimed at delivering food security and health for East Africa. The Quikgro initiative, which aims to develop potato varieties suited to the agronomic and environmental conditions of the region, is a key component of the project and will hopefully result in economic and social benefits for smallholder farmers.
Potatoes USA: 2019 a banner year for potatoes, but in 2020 exports decline with severe losses in foodservice sales
Utilization of U.S. grown potatoes increased by 3.3% in volume in 2019 compared to 2018, an increase of 1,183 million pounds. The full force of the global pandemic and its impact on food sales became very apparent in March, Potatoes USA says. Beginning with the restrictions in China and then elsewhere in Asia, U.S. exports slowed considerably. Domestically, the calls for social distancing and the restrictions on sporting events, entertainment, bars, and restaurants has led to a drastic decline in foodservice sales.
Bord Bia, CNIPT, VLAM and Europatat are thrilled to announce that the European campaign “Potatoes, prepare to be surprised – Europe’s favourite since 1536” is now live. The three-year campaign, co-financed by the European Commission under the EU Promotion policy, will run until the end of 2022 and is now live online under the hashtag #potatosurprises. The aim is to encourage the consumption of fresh potatoes among millennials.
AHDB says on its website that many British farmers have started selling potatoes directly to the customer in order to support their businesses. If you are a potato grower and have a website or a Facebook page, you can promote the benefits of eating potatoes with ready-to-use graphics, videos and recipes that AHDB supplies.
In February 2020, the Potatoes NZ board adopted a new strategic objective of zero net emissions by 2050. The Sustainable Vegetable Systems Project (SVS) is a multi-stream nationwide project that will transition crop production to more sustainable land management practices while growing resilient communities and economies.
Prince Edward Island’s potato industry had to scramble this month to respond to demand that changed seemingly overnight when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. “The last two or three weeks have been anything but typical in the potato world,” said Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board. While demand for fresh potatoes surged demand for processed potatoes — such as french fries — fell significantly, he said. Restaurants are a major customer for these products, and their business has suffered as people across North America are being told to stay home.
New Chairman of Potatoes USA: ‘My main goal is helping the U.S. to fulfill the potato needs of the American people’
Potatoes USA, the marketing and promotion board for the U.S. potato industry, elected its new leadership during its 48th Annual Meeting on March 11. Marty Myers of Boardman, Oregon was elected Chairman of the Board. Myers said that up until this month, his main goal as chairman was to increase outreach to the processing community. With the impact of COVID-19 however, Myers’ priorities are shifting gears.
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world and disrupt the operations of many organizations, the International Potato Center (CIP) says in a recent press release it is now actively taking measures to ensure its staff, beneficiaries and partners remain healthy. CIP has national offices in 19 countries where the spread of coronavirus poses a substantial threat. It wants to make sure its work does not exacerbate the problem. As such, CIP has updated its operations policies and made certain recommendations to staff members.
Breaking the silence of a nationwide lockdown, the hum of a tractor is the only sound. Farmers are among the country’s essential workers, so farms and fields are remaining busy keeping food on Kiwis’ plates. And despite panic-buying, there is no shortage. New Zealand could survive on potatoes alone, writes Conor Whitten in an article published by Newshub Nation.
In the latest Europatat Newsletter published today, it is said that as the COVID-19 is spreading through Europe, and on top of the terrible human component and personal challenges that the outbreak is causing, there is also an unprecedented widespread disruption to companies involved in the trade of agricultural products. Europatat says the potato sector faces a difficult time and the organization is active in supporting members, citing examples.
In the Friday March 27 issue of Potato Weekly, issued by AHDB Potatoes, it is said that anecdotal reports suggest that retail demand has started to lessen this week following the nationwide “lockdown” since Monday night. This has been suggested to be due to a reduction in panic buying as supermarkets introduce limits on purchasing.