The release of the end-March stocks estimate did enable the UK domestic market to encapsulate the partial impact that the coronavirus is having on the potato industry. However, it does not allow us to paint the whole picture as we finish this marketing year and head into next season. Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, wrote the following report that we gladly re-publish here.
In an exclusive interview with Dan Orehov, Edtor of Potato Business, Secretary General of Belgapom, Romain Cools, talked about the current situation of potato consumption and trade in Belgium, on the background of the pandemic. Orehov and Cools also discussed the future of the Belgian potato, from farm to fork and the impact that foodservice industry closure has had so far on the overall potato business.
Signs are showing that frozen fry demand is improving quicker than the industry had anticipated, according to a May 27 report by North American Potato Market News. Restaurant chain sales in the U.S. improved five consecutive weeks from early April to mid-May, although were still down 21%, year-over-year in the week ending May 17.
It was common for a fruit or vegetable to be having a good winter in terms of volume, pricing and demand, and then in mid-March, when lockdowns began, the item would see a sudden demand surge then crash. Greg Johnson, Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services reports. Johnson writes that no produce item shows this pandemic effect as clearly as potatoes, whose average F.O.B. price has been about half of what it was in early March, as demand has been significantly damaged by restaurant, school and institution closures.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will host a webinar this coming Thursday, the 4th of June, on the fourth and final meeting of the KTIF Tuberzone project. It will take place at 1:00 PM BST and last for an hour. This project has taken cutting edge crop modelling technology and made it available to a group of farmers growing Gemson seed and salad potatoes. The model uses a host of different measurements and predictions to provide growers with more information to aid their crop burn-down decisions and calculate the best economic yield depending on tuber size.
New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab in the UK and funded by AHDB will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation, in particular drip irrigation. Grower members of Nene Potato Ltd planned a trial on use of slightly saline water with those able to offer technical support. The two aspects being investigated are effect of salinity and benefit of application by drip when using brackish water.
According to a report published earlier this week by the Washington Ag Network, the National Potato Council and state grower organizations wrote Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last week to talk about potatoes that have nowhere to go for processing. According to the Council, more than 1.5 billion pounds of fresh potatoes for processing and potato products are trapped in the supply chain with no likely customers.
As Alberta’s potato industry in Canada reels from the devastation of COVID-19, one industry spokesperson says he is worried the mental health and wellness of farmers could be at stake. Terence Hochstein, executive director for the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA), said recent blows to potato farms have stoked his concerns for farm families. Hochstein said the industry is sitting on some 100,000 tons of potatoes right now that need to be processed by September.
Secretariat of Europatat: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, European potato traders have been working around the clock not only to keep the potato supply chain running but also to help combat Covid-19. In this article you can take a look at those Europatat’s members actions that have been carried out all around Europe in the past weeks. We would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to all of you. You are our #foodheroes!
Plant biotechnology is poised to drastically improve how we consume medication. Using the modern tools of genetic engineering, researchers are developing plant-based drugs that are cheaper, easier to take and even more effective than their existing counterparts. Tautvydas Shuipys reports for the Genetic Literacy Project. A Canada-based company has announced that using this same technology, they have produced a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in twenty days.
“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!
Since lockdown measures were imposed in Britain in March of this year, uncertainty over the forward demand profile of potato markets has grown and grown, says Senior Analyst at AHDB, Alice Bailey. AHDB has pieced together its opinion on current and future supply and demand profiles to begin a wider discussion on the forward profile of potato markets. “We will constantly review and update as new information becomes available and circumstances change,” says Alice Bailey, author of the report.
Control strategies for late blight are constantly developing as the pathogen causing the disease evolves and the available blight chemistry changes, either due to regulation or efficacy shifts due to fungicide resistance, according to independent agronomy company Farmacy Plc in the UK. Overcoming issues such as these is a key part of the Hutchinsons’ blight trials, first set up in 1997. The trial is managed specifically to test products individually under higher blight pressure than might otherwise be found in the field.
In a recent report released by Russian based Fruit-Inform, a produce market information company, commercial potato growers in the Ukraine did not report significant losses occurred during the 2019 growing season. However, small-scale garden producers suffered severely reduced yields on average. These smallholder growers is an important part of the potato production infrastructure in the Ukraine. Fruit-Inform further reports that Russian potato production has significantly grown during the autumn of 2019.
This interesting graph, depicting potato consumption in several countries around the world, was first published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on its website. The organization says its 600 full-time journalists, 750 freelancers, and 20 local bureaus provide accurate news and information in 27 languages and 23 countries, making it one of the most comprehensive news operations in the world.?
This project builds on ongoing work by the International Potato Center (CIP) developing early-maturing potato varieties that are tolerant to high temperatures and resistant to major virus diseases, thus suitable for growing in tropical climates.In close collaboration with the Netherlands-based global potato seed company HZPC, this project is developing early-maturing varieties with good characteristics for cooking and processing that would be suitable for the local environmental conditions. Five advanced clone candidate varieties will be cultivated and evaluated at high and low altitudes in Vietnam.
CIP mapping potato diseases in Africa: Bacterial wilt present in 73% ware potato farms and 50% seed potato farms in Uganda
Bacterial wilt is widespread in Uganda, limiting yields and degrading seed quality. But little is known about the extent of the disease. CIP conducted a nationwide survey to chart the prevalence and spread of bacterial wilt in Uganda, as well as the type of pathogens present. Bacterial wilt was found to be present in 73% of ware potato farms and 50% of seed potato farms.
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?
Some potato growers in Manitoba have reached a breaking point and not just because of COVID-19. Manitoba’s potato industry has been suffering for more than 18 months. There was a difficult harvest in 2018, a much worse harvest in 2019, potatoes rotting in storage this winter and production cuts this spring. The personal stress has been building and a number of producers are questioning why they continue to grow potatoes.
A sequences approach using a liquid nematicide with a new mode of action along with an existing granular product is the best approach for tackling potato cyst nematode, according to trials carried out by specialist potato agronomy group Produce Solutions. The company has spent three years testing the nematicide in Shropshire, using it alone and in sequence with granular nematicides at different rates. The firm now has a clearer view on its place in potato cyst nematode strategies and the costs involved.
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).
What lies beneath: WSU team studies three-way interaction between potatoes, powdery scab, and mop top virus
A team of Washington State University scientists are taking on a destructive complex of diseases affecting valuable potato crops. Over the last few years Washington’s potato industry has encountered a new threat: Potato mop top virus, a pathogen that lives in soil and attacks the tuber, darkening the flesh and making potatoes unsellable. Mop top is spread by a protist, a fungus-like microorganism, that causes a disease called powdery scab which blemishes valuable tubers as it infects neighboring plants.
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.