Retail

COVID-19 has taken Idaho and U.S. potato industry ‘on a roller-coaster ride’

Total acres of Idaho’s iconic potato crop could decrease significantly this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Although there was a rush on potatoes at grocery stores early on, that has abated somewhat and has not been enough to make up for a major decrease in sales of potatoes and potato products through foodservice channels, according to industry leaders. Some french fry processors in Idaho have cut contracted acreage by 10-20 percent this year, according to North American Potato Market News Publisher, Bruce Huffaker.

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Newly launched food marketplace creates vital network for local British food producers

A new online marketplace, Foodens has launched in the UK – connecting shops and food suppliers with their local communities. Businesses can list food boxes for sale (for both collection and delivery), helping to distribute food across the UK in a safe zero-contact manner, Farmers Guide reports. Foodens.com is run by the Foodens Foundation, a non-profit organisation.

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How Coronavirus has changed the British potato market and the way AHDB supports the industry

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.

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As french fry demand diminishes, potato acres expected to drop in Canada’s Manitoba province

Manitoba potato growers are feeling the impact of COVID-19, Cory Knutt of PembinaValley Online reports. According to Dan Sawatzky, Manager of Keystone Potato Producers Association: “Acreage will be down this year,” he said. “An estimate might be in that 67,000 range, which is similar to a couple years back. We are seeing demand for fries diminishing, certainly with the COVID-19 virus.

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Potato processors in many countries cut contracted acres

There will be fewer acres of Russets going into the ground in northern states this spring as processors cut back on their contracted acres in response to a reduction in sales of frozen french fries and other potato products, reports Ann Bailey in the Grand Forks Herald. Contracted potato acres in the western European countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom could be reduced by nearly 8%.

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Irish potato supplier signs €62.5m deal with Tesco

Dublin-based fresh food business Country Crest has extended its contract to supply potatoes and onions to Tesco in a €62.5 million deal over the next 2½ years. The family-owned company, run by brothers Gabriel and Michael Hoey, has signed a deal to supply the supermarket chain with 36,000 tonnes annually of own-brand potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes until September 2022. Country Crest also[Read More…]

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Belgian potato chief appeals for government to chip in amid coronavirus crisis

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.

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An extraordinary month in Britain’s grocery

March was a month unlike any seen before in food retail in Britain. Drastic changes to how we live our lives have driven changes in shopping behaviour that left grocery retailers scrambling to adapt. As the dust settles, AHDB takes a look at what happened in a month we’re unlikely to forget. Fresh potato sales in the latest 4 week period have exceeded even the usual peak seen at Christmas.

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Potato grower Michael Family Farms in the US informs consumers with new website

Michael Family Farms, Urbana, Ohio, launched a website showcasing its operation and Side Delights potato products. The website, www.MichaelFamilyFarms.com, gives consumers product details, nutritional information, recipe suggestions, on-farm food safety procedures and other information. according to a news release. Side Delights has a dedicated section so consumers can learn more about the line.

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Online grocery deliverers struggle to satisfy coronavirus demand

A pandemic forcing everyone to stay home could be the perfect moment for online grocery services. In practice, they’ve been struggling to keep up with a surge in orders, highlighting their limited ability to respond to an unprecedented onslaught of demand. Instacart, a platform that partners with more than 25,000 stores in North America, says orders in more recent weeks have surged 150 percent. In Britain, CEO Melanie Smith e-mailed customers to tell them demand spiked to 10 times the normal level.

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Dutch potato association explores solutions for afflicted processing industry

The “Nederlandse Aardappel Organisatie” (NAO) expressed their support for their members who are dealing with unforeseen challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. On their website NAO acknowledges there are companies that cannot cope with the work, for example in the table potato market, while in the catering market, demand has completely disappeared and companies are therefore partly stalling. As much as 90% of the demand in the processing industry has suddenly disappeared.

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How will Covid-19 lockdown impact our eating habits?

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.

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AHDB quantifies the impact of chip-shop closures in Britain

Over the past 3 weeks we have seen the sudden and drastic closure of the vast majority of demand for chipping and bagged potatoes for foodservice markets in the UK. With the chip-shop market being mostly closed, what is the impact on potato tonnages destined for this market? AHDB estimates a balance (at mid-March) of 188,576 tonnes is facing the issue of lost demand.

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Lamb Weston CEO: ‘We are unable to reasonably forecast frozen potato product demand’

Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced its fiscal third quarter 2020 results. “Our results in the third quarter were mixed,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO. “At this time, despite only two months remaining in our fiscal fourth quarter, we are unable to reasonably forecast frozen potato product demand because of the pandemic’s unpredictable near-term effect on restaurant traffic in North America and our key international markets.”

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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.

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A shift in market requirements for the British potato industry

In light of the coronavirus outbreak reaching the UK in January 2020 there has been significant development, ultimately changing the way the potato industry has been functioning. At first, the changes were slow but once the government started enforcing stricter guidelines things quickly changed, says AHDB in the UK in a news report end of the past week. What volumes of potatoes were grown and are available for the required markets? With fresh chip and significant amounts of French fries volumes not required anymore, could we see a shift in the movement of potatoes initially destined for these markets into other sectors?

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Keogh’s: Covid-19 ‘a catalyst’ for online food purchasing

The impact of Covid-19 and the measures being taken to prevent and limit the spread of the coronavirus could well prove to be a catalyst in shifting consumer behaviour towards online sales, according to Tom Keogh, managing director of well-known potato and crisp company Keogh’s in Ireland. Keogh is certain there will be a change, saying he thinks this will be a catalyst to drive a lot of people into permanent online purchasing.

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Lamb Weston: Retail sales of frozen french fries up ‘significantly’; production increased

Potato processor Lamb Weston said that grocery store sales of frozen french fries and processed potatoes “are up significantly” as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the “stay-at-home” orders issued by a number of state governors across the U.S. Sean Connolly, president and CEO of Conagra foods — the former parent company of Lamb Weston — said that all of the company’s North American facilities “are open and running at high levels of utilization.”

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Ireland’s Keogh’s sees potato sales surge

A surge in consumer demand for healthy home-cooked foods has seen a “phenomenal” uplift in fresh potato sales – with increases as high as 70% with certain customers, according to Tom Keogh, managing director of well-known potato and crisp company Keogh’s. Speaking to AgriLand, Keogh outlined the impact that Covid-19, and the subsequent measures to limit the coronavirus, have had on his company and the broader industry.

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Canada: How COVID-19 influenced the potato industry on Prince Edward Island

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.

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Closure of chip shops in Britain bad news for potato growers

The closure of fish and chip shops due to coronavirus has left thousands of tonnes of potatoes languishing in storage – threatening to put farmers out of business, Farmers Weekly reports. Based in Cambridgeshire, potato merchants Abbey Produce usually supplies about 30,000t of potatoes into the chip shop trade every year. But sales director Duncan Negus told Farmers Weekly his company hadn’t been able to sell a single potato for more than a week.

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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.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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