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.
Researchers from McMaster University have found that the potato, primarily known as a starchy vegetable, can be a source of high-quality protein that helps to maintain muscle. The findings, reported in the journal Nutrients, highlight the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources. This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle.
Keeping potato crops stress free is not an easy job for growers, particularly when one considers the key growth periods of June through to August are also potentially some of the most stressful for the crop, with temperature and drought stress being particularly prevalent. Interagro’s Bridgeway biostimulant product is said to offer the possibility of reducing stress by improving root health and by increasing the rate of photosynthesis.
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. Hal Bernton, Associated Press reports. 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. By early April, potato processors had decided to reduce their contracted acreage by about 20 percent, according to Chris Voigt of the Washington Potato Commission.
In this video, published May 1 by AHDB Potatoes in the UK, strategy director Rob Clayton provides some context around the March stocks estimate (released May 1). Dr Clayton says that this estimate is an important ‘line in the sand’ which allows AHDB to calculate how much potatoes are left in growers’ stores, which in turn will help AHDB to strategize and plan different marketing scenarios for the rest of the spring and into the summer.
The world is faced with a rising demand for food due to population growth, changes in dietary habits and the availability of agricultural resources. As a result farmers need to be more efficient and productive. The story of Gaby Quispe of Patacamaya, Bolivia, is typical and gives a simple illustration of how to achieve gender equity and the empowerment of rural women through the use of climate-smart technologies in potato production.
In an Executive Director report, Terence Hochstein of the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) says: “As I write this article for May 1st, Canada is now 107 days from the first reported case of COVID-19. Never in the history of mankind has the entire world come to a screeching halt; the world economy is completely upside down. There are millions of opinions out there as to the seriousness of this pandemic and the forever lasting effects of what our lives will look like in the future.”
The following letter was sent to Potato News Today by potato storage specialist in the UK, Ray Andrews, and we published it as such. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a once strong potato market to make an abrupt about-face, leading some Idaho growers to dump surplus spuds from storage cellars or to feed them to cattle. Just a few weeks ago, Idaho potato farmers were enjoying some of their best fresh prices in recent memory and anticipated supplies would run short in the coming summer. The combination of lower spud yields and widespread frost damage during the 2019 harvest had contributed to a smaller statewide crop than normal, the Post Register reported Saturday.
Retail purchases of all potato products were 41 percent higher in March 2020 compared to the same time frame last year, according to figures released by industry marketing body, Potatoes USA. “Consumers give potatoes high marks for being a satisfying food that everyone enjoys and for being a great value,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Fresh potatoes have experienced a 42 percent volume increase since the beginning of March and a 67 percent year-over-year dollar sales increase as of the end of the first week of April.
COVID-19 is driving demand for fresh potatoes in supermarkets and grocery stores across the globe as people stock up on inexpensive food. Fresh potato has become a favorite during the lockdown, along with rice, wheat flour, bread and pasta, the International Potato Center (CIP) says in a recently published report. The world should be prepared to guarantee availability of food at affordable prices over the next 12?18 months, or even longer, to effectively overcome the effects of the pandemic. Potato has a key role to play in ensuring global food security.
The head of the National Potato Council in the US says it’s yet to be determined how much money the industry needs to be made whole in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns, Capital Press reports. However, “what we have identified is that there is between $750 million and $1.5 billion of products that are clogged up in the potato pipeline right now,” council CEO Kam Quarles said.
Canada: Prince Edward Island’s 2020 potato acreage dependent on contracts, but storability is a concern
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic brought physical meetings to a standstill, the board of directors of United Potato Growers of Canada held a face-to-face meeting in Ottawa to review potato stocks and discuss the market situation across the country. General Manager Kevin MacIsaac noted stocks nationally were down 1.9 per cent or one million hundredweight over the three-year average as of March 1. He said that Prince Edward Island holdings were up 3.9 per cent.
In the latest Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Potato Market Report, it is said that the retail trade remains strong albeit slightly erratic following the Easter break. The processing sector remains at a standstill although more restaurants are opening on a ‘take-away’ basis following the announcement of further restrictions. Meanwhile plantings continue at pace across the country.
A potato study utilizes irrigation system feedback to distinguish between “thirst” and disease. The three-year project is supported by the Texas Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program. “If you were just assuming it was a healthy plant, then you would put water on it. But if it is really a diseased plant, then putting water on it is not going to help at all. Matter of fact, it may make the disease worse,” according to Charlie Rush, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist.
Didier Andrivon from INRA directs our thoughts to potato and tomato blights in Europe and argues that multi-actor research is crucial for sustainable control. Controlling blight epidemics have long relied almost exclusively on repeated applications of synthetic fungicides. It is not uncommon for potato crops to receive 15 or 20 sprays a season to keep blights at bay. However, this strategy while efficient, is not sustainable.
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.
In the fields and barns across America are the stories of farmers — the talented, tenacious stewards of the land who have grown our food for generations. But while agriculture is the foundation of our civilization and the backbone of our nation, the story has only been half-told. According to the 2012 Agriculture Census, more than 280,000 of all primary farm operators are women, and a total of one million women work in the agriculture industry. Their stories have gone untold — until now.
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.
The situation in mainland Europe closely echoes current trends in the UK. Fresh retail sales have been reported to have increased significantly and potatoes are moving from countries such as France and Germany to help meet demand in eastern Europe. Meanwhile the widespread closure of restaurants and other food service outlets has meant that demand for processed potato products has[Read More…]
In this week’s Potato Weekly report, issued yesterday by AHDB Potatoes, analyst Adian Wright writes that trade in the chipping market is at almost a complete standstill as most chip shops remain closed across the UK. Meanwhile, another week of good weather nationwide has meant that for many, planting of potatoes has continued at pace, but the uncertainty of how long certain markets may be unavailable is hanging over some growers who are trying to make planting decisions.
Potato processing facilities shutting down in Western Europe; calls multiply for reduced planted area
In the European potato sector, the direct consequences of the Covid-19 crisis are stark and multiple, according to a report by FIWAP (Filiere wallonne de la pomme de terre), is the potato industry association of the potato growers in Wallonia, Belgium. several potato processing units are shutting down (totally or partially) in Western Europe, particularly those that supply fast-food restaurants and french fry outlets. Throughout the European northwest, calls for a reduction in the 2020 areas multiply.