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.
With prices and supply facing uncertainty due to lockdowns and high, panicked demand especially in the APAC region after the COVID-19 outbreak, it might be expected that potatoes would be able to benefit somewhat here – but in reality, there have been multiple factors hindering this opportunity, according to International Potato Center Asia Regional Director Samarendu Mohanty.
Each time a bag of potato chips is opened in the United States, there is a one in four chance that it’s filled with Michigan-grown potatoes. Michigan is the largest producer of potatoes grown for the potato chip industry in the US, A concerted effort made by industry stakeholders, spearheaded by Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch, and coordinated by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, has built a partnership that is growing the industry.
With restaurants closed due to COVID-19, the potato industry in Canada has taken a big hit. Lukie Pieterse, editor and publisher of Potato News Today joined guest host Heather Morrison of CBC Saskatchewan to talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the industry.
Potato processor McCain Foods (GB) Ltd is using ethylene and specifically the anti-sprouting system Restrain as its preferred replacement for the soon to be withdrawn CIPC, according to a press release issued by Restrain company. According to the release, McCain Foods GB, the UK business of the world’s largest producer of frozen potato products, has been using ethylene for a few years and is now recommending Restrain ethylene generators to its potato growers in the United Kingdom.
There is, perhaps, no vegetable in the world as versatile as the potato. And farmers in Assam, India, are proving this fact by developing numerous innovations to bring new products into local markets. The innovations have been created through Value Chain Schools (VCS) within the Assam Agri-Business and Rural Transformation Project (APART) – a project dedicated to fostering entrepreneurial skills among small and marginalized farmers in Assam.
“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.
Britain’s farmers are struggling to work out what to do with tens of thousands of tonnes of spare potatoes when their season ends this summer after the closure of fish and chip shops during the lockdown triggered a collapse in demand.
A $4.7 million provincial program developed in conjunction with the Prince Edward Island provincial government and Cavendish Farms should help deal with a surplus of potatoes accumulating in the warehouses of processing growers, says the general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada. However, there is concern in some quarters about the fact that all of the funds are destined for the processing company. The district director of the National Farmers Union said the deal raises “a lot of red flags.”
The amount of potatoes in storage for Canada’s processing sector is 4.2 per cent above the three-year average as of May 1, 2020, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada’s (UPGC) latest update. The UPGC attributes the higher numbers to the COVID-19 pandemic which has “had a dramatic effect on french fry sales as sit-down portions of quick service and fast casual restaurants were closed.” The Potato Growers of Alberta estimates about $60 to $70 million worth of processing potatoes are still in storage.
Processor Lamb Weston has returned part of the 2019 potato crop to Northwest farmers, according to a report by Capital Press. The company doesn’t have the ability to run all of the 2019 potatoes remaining in storage, said Dale Lathim, executive director of Potato Growers of Washington. About 30% of the potatoes still in growers’ storage has been returned to farmers, Lathim said. He said that’s about 4 million hundredweight of potatoes in Washington.
Lamb Weston has reported four cases of COVID-19 among its employees in Boardman. Three of the cases at the company’s Boardman facilities were reported in mid-April and one early this month, health officials said. “In each of the four cases in Boardman, we are confident we took the right measures for our team members’ safety,” said spokesperson Shelby Stoolman.
For farmer Mike Pink, spring is supposed to be a time of hope, when he can survey a green field of young potato plants and anticipate the bounty to be pulled from the sandy soils of the Columbia Basin, reports Hal Bernton of the Seattle Times. This year, this is a season when dreams die. Due to an epic potato glut that imploded his market, he has decided to do what was once unthinkable — destroy part of his crop rather than sink more dollars into cultivation. During the past two months, fast food sales have dropped sharply.
Belgian potato fries in the frying pan: Country’s proud industry feeling the heat of COVID-19 effects
When you read the headline ‘Belgian’s urged to eat more fries’ you may think it’s a joke, but in Belgium, it was a serious request, reports Leighton Schneider for ABC News International. The country’s potato industry has been hit hard by COVID-19 since it started hitting China and the rest of Asia. Romain Cools, the Secretary-General of Belgapom, which oversees Belgium’s potato trade and processing industry, tells ABC News’ “Perspective Podcast” the country has a giant surplus of potatoes, which was caused by the shutdown of the food service sector since about 70 percent of the potatoes in Belgium are consumed out of the home.
Last week saw the release of our end-March stocks estimates. Fresh bags and chipping stocks that remain in grower ownership at the end of March were estimated at 157.3Kt. This shows a 49% drawdown from end of January, suggesting 151.6Kt moved from grower ownership in that time. By the end of March approximately 79% of fresh bag and chipping material had left grower ownership which is 2% lower than the 5-year average. However the question faced is; what will happen to the remaining 21% if the fish and chip trade remains subdued?
Stuck at home with nowhere to go, many Americans can’t help but snack more, and many are grabbing a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Since mid-March — when the World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a pandemic — the number of Americans likely to purchase Lay’s has increased by 35 percent. Right now, 18 percent of the American population say they’re likely to purchase a bag of Lay’s, the highest that figure has been in three years (that figure is even slightly higher at 19 percent among those who are in-market to buy snacks in the next 30 days).
The following in-depth analysis of the British potato processing market was prepared by Alex Cook at AHDB Potatoes. Over the course of the lockdown so far, processors have reportedly operated a lower output with reduced labour in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Many have opted to close certain product lines to reduce workloads. A continued loss in foodservice through to the end of the season is expected.
Martine van der Wekken of FreshPlaza spoke with Hylke Brunt, the Dutch Potato Processing Industry Association’s (VAVI) secretary, and Romain Cools, general secretary of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trading and processing sectors’ professional association, to learn more about the lay of the land in the European processing sector from their respective vantage points. Hylke Brunt says the out-of-home market has collapsed throughout Europe. Romain Cools told van der Wekken the foodservice sector has largely vanished for everyone, locally and overseas.
Canadian govt aims to help redistribute stranded potatoes; farmers say new program may not be enough
A first-of-its-kind federal program aimed at redistributing surplus food during the COVID-19 pandemic is an initial step toward moving some of the thousands of tonnes of excess potatoes currently stuck in storage on southern Alberta farms, producers say. However, farmers warn the $50-million program will only go so far, meaning large quantities of good-quality potatoes could still end up being turned out onto fields and left to rot this summer.
‘The European potato world is upside down’: NEPG paints a dark picture of the current and future European situation
The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) says that the foodservice demand for potato products in Europe has dropped by 50 to 60%, and the export markets have lost its potential as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It says the global potato processing industry has reduced production capacity everywhere. More than 2 million tons of raw product will most likely not be processed in Europe. This is the first time in recent history that processors have to back down on contracts. The world is upside down, the NEPG says in its press release