COVID-19’s emergence around the world quickly raised alarm bells for many people regarding the ability of our global food chain to respond. In Maine, millions of pounds of potatoes no longer had markets as schools, restaurants and other institutions shut down. The Maine Gleaning Network, in an effort to salvage some of this lost income to farmers and to get food to people who need it, organized the purchase and distribution of 40,000 pounds of Aroostook County potatoes from Irving Farms Marketing, representing multiple potato farmers in the area.
In this episode of Potatoes USA’s “Keeping it Current” initiative, Kendra Keenan, Global Marketing Manager for Foodservice, talks about the shifts in foodservice and how chefs and operators from across the globe are finding potato inspiration for their menus and getting more creative to drive sales. Kendra also touches on the numerous marketing materials created for foodservice operators and where they can be accessed.
The National Potato Council held their first ever virtual event this week. There’s been remarkable changes in the food system over the last few months because of COVID-19. That’s led to a lot of adjustments to the potato industry. “The versatility, the commonality and the nutritional benefits of the potato solidified our position with consumers—many of whom cooked their first potatoes at home over the past 90 days,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Despite the hardships that COVID has presented, Richardson is still bullish for the potato industry.
Production and marketing are both in positive places for the Colorado potato industry. Jim Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said June 24 that the 2020 crop “looks really, really good. It has been extremely dry and warmer than normal. But the crop is growing really well.”
Specialist potato grower Scutt Farming was selling 100 per cent of its 152-hectare (375-acre) potato crop to fish and chip shops when lockdown began, forcing the East Yorkshire family business to urgently find a new market. The business’ potatoes found a home as part of Morrisons ‘Wonky’ range. “The Wonky range shows the public is happy to buy potatoes which are not necessarily as visually perfect as the classic pre-packed sample,” says Mr Scutt.
As a grocery cart staple, fresh produce and its bounty of categories has been one guarantee during the tumultuous past couple of months. In fact, when Kayla Webb of AndNowUKnow checked in on the potato market with Bushwick Potato Commission, Ken Gray confirmed that, if anything, the pandemic has highlighted the value and versatility of fresh potatoes for families in the United States.
Viewpoint: 70% of consumers say ‘natural’ food is healthier, but there’s no science behind the marketing hype
When you hear the word “natural,” what thoughts or images come to mind? If you think of flowers, puppies, fresh baked bread, or other wholesome ideas, you’re not alone, writes Jack Bobo on the Gernetic Literacy Project. Products that were once only found in “health food stores” or specialty stores like Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers are now available in traditional grocery and convenience stores.
In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 upturned lives and livelihoods in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. One of the responses we’ve seen as people have adjusted and then readjusted to a new normal is a change in consumer behaviours.
Retail potato sales soar, increasing 10.4% in dollar sales and 9.3% in volume sales between July 1, 2019 and May 19, 2020, according to IRI. All potato categories across the retail store, except deli-prepared sides, increased in dollar and volume sales, according to a report by Potatoes USA. Fresh, frozen, dehydrated, and canned potatoes saw double-digit increases in both dollar[Read More…]
SuperValu has forecasted that it will sell €2.5 million worth of new Irish potatoes this year, as overall potato sales across its store network is set to reach €37 million this year. Tommy Kennedy, owner, K&K Produce said that working with SuperValu has allowed it to expand its company and it now employs 80 staff.
Coronavirus collapsed America’s food system, but made for “a pivotal and magical moment in local food”
Sheldon Rockey weaves through pallets of potatoes in a long-retired high school gym as a small team of workers wash and package his trademarked fingerlings. “We just weren’t prepared for this, so there will be some livestock that will eat some gourmet potatoes this year,” says Rockey, who saw his innovative and competitive strategy of selling tiny high-end potatoes to a wholesaler supplying cruise ships and restaurants collapse in mid-March as the pandemic settled in the U.S.
Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) has met with Minister Faafoi to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand. With MBIE’s support, Potatoes NZ is undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the potential import threat. PNZ want to discourage the Europeans from attempting surplus import.
With the Farmers to Families Food Box Program underway across the country, companies are busy packing and sending fresh produce to food banks. Chris Koger of The Packer provides a round-up of recent COVID-19-related news. As far as potatoes are concerned, Koger writes that Potatoes USA is connecting with industry members through a new video series, Keeping It Current, to explain what the organization has been doing during the pandemic.
Wisconsin spuds had a shaky start to the COVID-19 pandemic, but high consumer demand has put potatoes in a good spot, says the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The retail demand increased tremendously with the advent of COVID,” Executive Director Tamas Houlihan said. “Grocery store sales were through the roof, people were stocking up, and they weren’t buying the usual 5 and 10 pound bags. They were buying as much as they could.”
Hot potato Bud the Spud will make his British television debut this summer as part of a £100,000 marketing push. AHDB says in a news release that it has refreshed the successful More Than a Bit on the Side campaign to support retail sales of potatoes in the wake of COVID-19. The tongue-in-cheek campaign, which features saucy character Bud alongside a range of suggestive slogans, aims to inspire home cooks to add an extra potato meal to their weekly repertoire.
Potatoes New Zealand is asking the New Zealand government to give urgent consideration to imposing short-term measures limiting the importation into New Zealand of heavily discounted frozen potato chips to avoid a food security threat. This follows the Australian Potato Industry’s move to do the same. Globally, the disruption of supply chains, and particularly sales to hospitality, by virtue of COVID-19 restrictions has led to the complete collapse of potato prices in major production centres, in particular the European Union (EU).
The coronavirus has disrupted the global potato market like no other single event before it, but there are some signs things settling at least a new normal, according to Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets. World Potato Markets has just published its annual review of production, prices and trade. Potato News Today readers can enjoy a special purchase rate.
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.
As of now, potato farmers in Wisconsin haven’t been hit too bad by the coronavirus. They’re going to be hit this Fall, according to a report by WHBL Radio. The problem for Wisconsin growers is that a lot of the state’s potatoes have gone to the fresh produce side of the industry. That’s totally fine for now, but once Fall hits and you have the potatoes from the Midwest and the ones coming from the Western states, it’s going to be an issue.
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.
Gourmet potatoes favoured by top chefs and typically found only on the menus of high-end restaurants are to go on sale in Tesco this week to avoid them going to waste, according to news report by The Guardian in the UK. The move aims to ease a glut of fresh potatoes in the UK, with thousands of tonnes unused since the government ordered the closure of hospitality businesses on 23 March.
“The 2019/20 potato season in the Ukraine turned out to be the most unprecedented within the whole history of our monitoring,” says the market information company Fruit-Inform in a recent report. “We expected an increase of potato imports into the Ukraine of up to 21,000 tons in our autumn forecast. However, as of March, the imports totaled 300,000 tons!
The Netherlands has begun supplying potatoes, originally intended for processing, to the Ukraine. Despite the fact that these varieties are not intended for fresh consumption, the processing potatoes from the Netherlands sell well on the fresh market in the Ukraine, mostly because these potatoes are of high quality, while it is sold at prices similar to local Ukrainian potatoes.
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.
Canada: The Little Potato Company’s Angela Santiago talks creamer potato demand, online trends, and cross-merchandising
If the food pyramid had a “comfort” category, potatoes would certainly be pictured. “It is a vegetable item that is not as highly perishable as other fresh produce items, and potatoes are familiar. There’s no learning what to do with them,” says Angela Santiago, CEO and Co-Founder of The Little Potato Company. As we discuss the pivot the COVID-19 pandemic demanded of our industry, and of her team specifically, Angela walks me through the impacts of this temporary normal.