The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that overall, consumption and demand have improved over the past 10 days in Ireland, following the return of cooler weather conditions. Estimates put the area damaged by the storms two weeks ago in Belgium, Holland and Germany at around 20,000 ha’s. A full assessment can only be made once the crop reaches maturity but blight is widespread and tuber quality and yields are very likely to have suffered.
The National Potato Council met virtually for the summer meeting last week. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles says there’s work to do across all issue areas including infrastructure, immigration reform and fresh potato market access with Mexico.
Anti-dumping tariffs on frozen French fries imported from the Netherlands and Germany have expired, leaving the South African potato industry vulnerable to ‘dumping’. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (Potatoes SA), said “The previous protection mechanism [proved] to be effective in ensuring the sustainability [of the local industry], and there is more than significant case law to suggest it to be necessary.”
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told Mexican government officials Wednesday that the country needs to resume its stalled process of approving genetically modified crops and pressed for an update on the country’s progress on increasing access for U.S. potatoes. Separately, National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles tells Agri-Pulse he’s pleased Tai is pressing Mexican officials on allowing more U.S. spuds into the country.
A trade row between Brussels and London threatened to erupt tonight after UK ministers banned the import of seed potatoes from EU countries in a victory for Scottish farmers. Defra restricted the imports of seed potatoes from the European Union after deciding not to renew a six-month authorisation. Scottish farming chiefs welcomed the news and claimed any extension to the grace period had the potential to “devastate” the industry.
Defra’s decision not to extend the derogation which allowed seed potatoes from Europe into the UK while Scottish growers were banned by the EU from trade in the opposite direction has been widely welcomed in the sector. But while the “both ways or no ways” decision on such trade might help stave off short-term disaster within the Scottish seed sector, commentators feel it will do little to restart the trade.
It was announced last week that Mexican Agriculture Secretary Víctor Villalobos Arámbula is expected to travel to Washington, D.C. in early August to meet with his American counterpart, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The meeting is expected to include a discussion of the decades-long issue concerning Mexico’s ban on the full importation of fresh U.S. potatoes. Today, NPC and state potato organizations sent a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack and USTR Ambassador Tai, urging them to “maintain a ‘trust-but-verify’ stance with Mexico” as they continue their negotiations.
Farmers may have to cut the volume of Jersey Royal potatoes grown in a season if the Island’s biggest agricultural crop is to maintain its premium status, an industry leader has said. The Jersey Royal has dominated the UK early season fresh produce market for over a century – but farming developments in the potato sector, stiff competition from other agricultural regions and changing consumer habits threaten its market lead.
In 2020, Washington potato growers faced a staggering surplus of potatoes. In 2021, they’re banking on a revival of the food service industry, including in-person dining, improved shipping conditions and a just-opened Mexican market to help reverse the chaos left by the trade wars and Covid-19 pandemic. While markets normalize and consumer spending shifts back to spending on restaurants and services, there’s a lucrative spot on the potato horizon: Mexico.
The excitement that U.S. potato growers felt following an April 28 decision by the Mexican Supreme Court to open up that entire nation to fresh potato exports from the United States has been blunted somewhat. According to leaders of the Idaho and U.S. potato industries, the group that represents Mexico’s potato industry could be attempting to throw up a roadblock that could slow down or potentially stop the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes into all of Mexico.
Strong demand for potatoes and potato products and tight domestic supplies continues to drive increases in imports for the current (July – June) marketing year, according to Potatoes USA. The industry body says for July 2020 – March 2021 total imports are up 9%, led by an 18% increase in chips and a 15% increase in dehydrated potatoes. The two largest categories frozen and fresh potatoes are up 9% and 5% respectively, while seed potato imports are up 14%.
Hoping to raise awareness about difficulties in selling their produce, potato farmers from the Famagusta district in Cyprus on Thursday handed out sacks of potatoes and carnations to oncoming cars at the Xylophagou exit of the Larnaca-Famagusta highway. The farmers and their families spoke with the drivers of the oncoming cars about their difficulties. The protest involved tractors but was monitored by the police.
In the latest episode of Potato-cast, a Potatoes USA podcast, Natalia Cervantes, Potatoes USA Conversation Architect, is joined by her guest Kayla Dome, Potatoes USA Global Retail Marketing Manager. Kayla points out that fresh potatoes are still driving larger baskets at retail outlets. She says March 2021 was expected to decline in sales compared to 2020 but specifically online grocery sales saw a 43% increase in online sales compared to 2020, a $9.3 billion dollar sales increase for that online category.
U.S. potato exports have faced a great deal of adversity in the current marketing year. Potatoes USA says that demand for frozen potato products declined precipitously in the spring of 2020, and this lower level of demand carried over through the first quarter of the marketing year (July – September 2020). As restrictions eased and the markets adjusted, demand began to return in the fall, but then shipping issues began to limit the ability of U.S. exporters to meet this demand.
Potatoes USA reports that potato sales for Q3 (January – March 2021) of Marketing Year 2021 have caught up to the changed buying habits that the pandemic brought about. March 2020 was an unprecedented time for potato sales in grocery stores as panic buying began a yearlong streak of record-high sales in dollars and volume. It is no surprise that sales in March of 2021 could not keep up with the buying patterns that occurred in that crazy month a year ago.
In this edition of the NPC hosted podcast: After years of delay, on April 28, Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled to overturn a lower court decision that prevented the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout the country. The ruling marks the end of a decade-long legal process.
The Mexican Supreme Court unexpectedly voted on Wednesday to overturn a 2017 lower court decision banning U.S. fresh potato sales in most of Mexico. While it’s unlikely potatoes grown in Aroostook County will make the several-thousand-mile trip into Mexico, it’s still good news for Maine’s growers because western farmers such as those in Idaho and Colorado who market on the east coast now likely will start moving their crops south.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary: Mexico court ruling on fresh potato imports ‘important for American agriculture’
“Mexico’s Supreme Court released a final, unanimous ruling today on a case that puts U.S. fresh potatoes one step closer to finally gaining access to Mexico following nearly 20 years of negotiations. This decision is important for American agriculture and for positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a statement released today.
Today, April 28, 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled by a unanimous vote of five to zero in favor of overturning a 2017 lower court decision that prevented the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout the country. The ruling marks the end of a decade-long legal process that began when Mexico’s potato industry sued its government to prevent competition from imports.
An investigation into the European dumping of frozen processed potato into the New Zealand market has been deemed as not being a material threat to the country’s potato industry, according to a new report. New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Interim Report said that while dumping had occurred, it did not require tariffs to be applied.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in New Zealand has released its Interim Report (Essential Facts and Conclusions) on the investigation into European dumping of frozen frozen potato fries and wedges into the NZ market. Potatoes NZ says in a press release that the MBIE investigation found there is dumping, but it has deemed it not of material threat to the NZ industry or at a level requiring tariffs.
There seems to be little hope for an imminent agreement between the EU and the UK on mutual trade in seed potatoes. If no agreement is reached on the phytosanitary preconditions for import and export, there is a good chance that the export of seed potatoes from EU countries to the UK will be resolutely closed on 1 July. This is what Dick Hylkema, director of the Dutch Potato Organization (NAO) fears.
Mexico’s Supreme Court refused two weeks ago for the second time in six weeks to make a ruling that could allow substantial new access to the Mexican market worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually for U.S. potatoes, fueling the determination of Mexican farmers to continue their fight against the trade.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its latest weekly report that retail demand was buoyant over the Easter period in Ireland, but the food sector service in the country continues to trade at a minimum. Across Europe, another series of lockdowns is reportedly stifling potato demand and the main processors are keeping their requirements almost solely to contracts.
At the last minute, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) postponed a debate on two pending appeals banning the import of potatoes from the United States, according to a news report by Leland Griffith, published in Sunday Vision.
According to the latest potato market report issued by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), there is a chance that outdoor dining may recommence in May according to the most recent plan to gradually re-open the country. Demand for top quality packing material remains strong. As the weather improves, growers are reminded to ‘grow for their markets’ and to remain cognisant of the current market situation.
AHDB Arable analyst, Thomma Shepherd, provides an analysis of what has driven potato markets over the last few weeks. She says the weekly average price survey, covering all sectors of the industry, shows potatoes have had a depressed few months, lagging behind previous seasons. The 2nd wave of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns has killed a lot of demand for potatoes. With the majority of hospitality closed along with schools there has been little optimism within the industry.