The potato market is notoriously volatile with huge yearly peaks and troughs. The volatile nature of potato pricing is, to some extent, related to the weather which is rather unpredictable. This is more so relevant in potatoes than most other UK crops because of the domestic nature of potato markets with very little global trade. This makes it hard to plan long-term profitability. So says Alex Cook, AHDB Analyst Potatoes & Cereals and Oilseeds, in this article.
This past Tuesday, January 12, saw the launch of the new DOWNS CropVision – a machine that manufacturer Dubrulle DOWNS calls “the new generation optical grader for unwashed potatoes”. Dubrulle DOWNS is a manufacturer of handling and storage solutions for potatoes based in France. The DOWNS CropVision is fitted with the latest technological innovations that allows for high- speed and high-quality mechanical grading of unwashed potatoes before it enters storage – at a rate of up to 100 tons/h.
Record potato retail sales continued from October to December 2020, the second quarter of Potatoes USA’s marketing year 2021. The industry body says in a press release that all three months saw an increase in both dollar and volume sales, with the largest growth in December. Total store potato sales grew 9.3% in volume and 12.3% in value. Prices also increased for consumers by 2.7%, which contributed to the 12.3% increase in dollar sales.
GRIMME announces that several new features were added to its GL 420 and GL 430 four-row cup planters, as well as the GB 430 belt planter. These include single-row on/off switching; further protection against soil erosion with the new TerraProtect system; and an operator friendly planter-and-tractor coupling system.
Due to how potato varieties can perform so differently at different times of the season, Linwood Crops in the UK says it does not sell its potato varieties by variety as such (unless requested), but rather by the ‘best available for purpose’, as well as for consistency – and ultimately taste on the day, and at whatever stage of the season, the company says. This Unique Selling Point (USP) puts Linwood’s Chef’s Taste brand in a class above any others and is receiving a fantastic amount of interest, according to Linwood.
In this week’s blog, AHDB’s head of export trade development for potatoes, Patrick Hughes, examines the issues around gaining third country listed status for seed potatoes and what the industry might do if a resolution is not reached. The news that ware potatoes have been awarded third country listed status and trade into the EU and Northern Ireland will continue is welcome. Unfortunately, the EU also confirmed they will not accept the case for a permanent change to the prohibition on seed potatoes.
PepsiCo, Inc. today announced plans to more than double its science-based climate goal, targeting a reduction of absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its value chain by more than 40% by 2030. In addition, the company has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, one decade earlier than called for in the Paris Agreement. Specifically, PepsiCo plans to reduce absolute GHG emissions across its direct operations by 75% and its indirect value chain by 40% by 2030. This action is expected to result in the equivalent of taking more than five million cars off the road for a full year.
Potato early dying disease, also known as Verticillium wilt, results in early potato maturity and can limit yield by as much as 50 per cent. What can Canadian growers do to protect their spuds? Mario Tenuta and Dmytro Yevtushenko of the Canadian Potato Early Dying Network (CanPEDNet) will share research updates on this disease during the upcoming Canadian Potato Summit on February 3.
Tong Engineering is delighted to announce the go-ahead for construction of the second phase development at its new manufacturing facility in Spilsby. As part of a planned two-phase project, the company’s £3.6 million first phase building was completed in August 2020. And now the second phase build, of comparable investment, is set to commence on the seven-acre site this month, with plans to move into the new facility in the Autumn.
The first day of the 2021 Potato Expo brought farm policy discussions and a look at the farm financial situation. Farm Credit Council CEO Todd Van Hoose told attendees farmer borrower stress is starting to stabilize. “The rally in the commodity markets and getting past some of the worst parts of the pandemic are starting to show. In addition, a whole lot of government money went into farmer’s pockets,” said Van Hoose. “Right now, we’re in relatively good times, but farm leverage is increasing.”
Following an announcement that nematode treatment Vydate 10g has not been re-authorised and as of 1 January this year it is no longer approved for use in the UK, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has applied for emergency approval to provide limited use of the product for the 2021 growing season. Following consultation with stakeholders AHDB submitted requests for emergency approvals for those Vydate uses where growers lack alternative pest control options.
As the global population approaches 10 billion by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 60%. Yet with every 1°C of warming, agricultural productivity is projected to fall by 5%. One model predicts that potato yields could decrease by as much as 32% by 2060, but the development and distribution of climate-smart varieties can ensure that this nutritious and fast-maturing crop continues to play a vital role in food systems in economies worldwide. To accelerate the development of those varieties, scientists have taken advantage of advances in genetic sequencing,
The World Potato Congress (WPC Inc) is pleased to present its next webinar on January 14, 2021 with Todd Forbush, long-time engineer with Techmark, Inc. Todd’s presentation is titled: “The impact of climate change on removing energy from a potato storage with an ambient air ventilation system”. Todd will inform participants about ambient air potato storage ventilation systems relying on cool outside air to remove energy from the potato storage resulting from both field heat and potato respiration.
The Living Laboratories Initiative is a four-year research partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), farmers and environmental organizations, where research is co-developed and managed on farms to produce farming practices tailored to local environments. Launched in 2019, the Atlantic site – located in Prince Edward Island (PEI) – is the first-of-its-kind in Canada. Research at Living Lab – Atlantic is addressing several key areas impacting potato producers in PEI, including soil health, water quality management and crop productivity.
Africa’s first potato farmers were European settlers who introduced the crop in the late 1800s, but few Africans grew it before the mid-1950s. Since then, the tuber has taken off, with more than 25 million metric tons produced in Africa in 2017. According to the International Potato Center (CIP), potato is now the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize, grown by 800,000 small-scale farmers and generating employment for an estimated 2.5 million people along the value chain. Improved potato varieties introduced by CIP have the potential to significantly boost farm incomes.
The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) today announced it has achieved its inaugural fundraising goal of $2 million for 2020. Launched at Potato Expo 2020 in Las Vegas, Potato LEAF was created to provide tools, training, and support necessary to develop growers and industry members as leaders. “We challenged the industry with an ambitious goal, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the response, particularly during an incredibly uncertain year,” said Potato LEAF Board Member Gregg Halverson.
PIP Innovations, the manufacturer of D-Blade – a robotic driven produce cutter – announced recently that it partnered with FoodeQ, manufacturer of vibratory shakers, in a strategic move to accelerate its global expansion by offering a tested combination of shakers and robot technology. The development of PIP Innovations’ robotic cutting machine started five years ago with a request from potato processor Peka Kroef to develop a machine that cuts defects from potato slices while retaining their shape during processing.
An assessment published in 2018 found that 19% of the total land area devoted to potato production in these seven countries was planted with varieties bred at the International Potato Center (CIP) or by national partners in collaboration with CIP. Between 2008 and 2015, the area planted with those varieties more than doubled to 1.43 million hectares. Over the past 40 years, CIP scientists have helped 2.93 million potato farming households to produce more food and generate more income.
Dear folks, I believe that as much as Caesar’s famous words “I came, I saw, I conquered” will most likely live on for many years and indeed millennia to come, the year 2020 will go down in recorded history as the year when humankind was first inflicted with “The Corona”. And may this be the last time… And may we not be conquered in the end, but overcome… To all you great potato folks: May 2021 turn out to be a great New Year for you and yours!
The recyclable packaging trend: PepsiCo’s partnership with bioplastics manufacturer Danimer Scientific
PepsiCo joined forces with Danimer Scientific several years ago with the goal to develop sustainable flexible packaging, Danimer says in a news release published on its website. According to the release, Danimer Scientific developed biobased compostable packaging for PepsiCo’s snack brands in the past. The new initiative is said to be “right in line with PepsiCo’s announced strategy to make all of its packaging recoverable or recyclable.”
On January 7 levy payers will gather online for an open discussion about the future direction of Potatoes at AHDB. This virtual ‘town hall’ event will give participants the chance to have a say on AHDB’s new five-year strategy and ask questions of Alison Levett (Potatoes Interim Chair) and Rob Clayton (Strategy Director). AHDB says its new strategy will put the organization in a place to deliver what the industry needs, including revamping the way AHDB works.
Potatoes help support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation for increased nutrient-dense vegetable consumption. Says John Toaspern, Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer: “It’s official: the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans have yet again confirmed the importance of eating more vegetables such as potatoes that provide potassium and vitamin C. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations focus on increased nutrient-dense vegetable consumption.
John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer at Potatoes USA provides insight from this year’s Sales and Utilization study of US potatoes. “With everything that has occurred this past marketing year, it is very important for us to understand what has happened with the sales of potatoes in the US market and how the crop was utilized based on an analysis of potatoes and products sold at retail and food service and accounting for the volume of US exports and imports,” Toasperm says.
The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a project that recently developed a durable solution for the late blight potato disease. The discovery is of historic importance, and now 2Blades is seeking partners to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa. 2Blades Foundation says it is honored to have the support of the son of Robert F. Kennedy, businessman Chris Kennedy, for its African Potato Initiative.