The ban on UK seed potato exports to the EU and Northern Ireland has reached crisis point for Northern Irish potato growers who depend ”very heavily” on seed imported from Scotland, according to leading Irish potato grower-packer Wilson’s Country. Wilson’s Country CEO Angus Wilson told Northern Ireland Minister of State Steve Baker MP that the ban could severely damage the competitiveness of potato production in Northern Ireland.
The Mintec benchmark price for packing potatoes in the UK declined by 5% month-on-month on the week of 23 November. Despite the recent decline in prices, they remain up 31% year-on-year. Potato growers continue to face higher production costs, largely for energy, fertiliser and transportation. The cost of storing potatoes rose significantly compared to 2021.
Retail demand and household consumption in Ireland have picked up since colder weather has set in, as the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports. Storage costs are a multiple of last year’s costs and growers must immediately receive an increase at farm gate level to compensate for this, IFA says. In the U.K. ambient stores are difficult to hold while it has been so mild and “wets” in bags are a problem for some growers.
IFA: Harvesting conditions in Ireland ‘very difficult’, European growers hoping for movement in fresh markets
According to the IFA, growers in Ireland continue to harvest where possible, with some progress being made in the last week but conditions were very difficult. Ireland’s National Potato Conference will take place next Tuesday November 22nd. Across Europe, on the fresh markets, growers have been pushing for movement to avoid storage costs.
It’s “very likely” Australia will face a potato shortage in coming months, the vice-president of horticulture at the Victorian Farmers’ Federation has warned. Kathryn Myers from the Victorian Farmers’ Federation says recent wet weather means farmers haven’t been able to plant potato crops. “It’s just not been possible to get tractors on the ground to work up our paddocks to put potatoes in,” she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell in an interview.
After USDA risk assessment, NPC urges increased protections to prevent Prince Edward Island potato wart spread
On Thurs., Nov. 10, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the U.S. and a dozen state potato associations issued a letter to USDA Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Services Jenny Moffitt calling on the department to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to develop new phytosanitary protocols to prevent the spread of potato wart from Prince Edward Island to U.S. growing areas. USDA concluded the disease is “almost certain to be introduced” to the United States without additional mitigation measures.
IFA: Harvest conditions in Ireland ‘very poor’, European growers push for sales to avoid storage costs
Retail sales and consumption have picked up and stabilised in Ireland since the weather has deteriorated. According to the Irish Farmers Association’s (IFA) weekly market report, harvest conditions remain very poor following heavy rainfall. Across Europe in the fresh consumption sector, a good steady demand is reported, with values in Germany edging higher. While markets are currently flat, growers are pushing for sales to avoid storage costs.
Strong demand and higher pricing characterized the potato market in early November, and tight market conditions are expected to continue through the holidays, as Tom Karst reports for The Packer magazine. Lower acreage for fresh market potatoes in Idaho this year, combined with active demand from frozen potato processors, have contributed to higher pricing for this year’s crop. Elevated pricing at both the farm level and at retail are expected in a short crop year.
Harvest was ground to a halt in many areas in Ireland over the last week with very wet weather conditions, the outlook for the next week looks unsettled also, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its weekly potato market report. There are reports of some quality issues with current conditions. Across Europe, those with quality samples are confident and continue to try to force prices higher. There is an anticipation that values will improve in the fresh sector.
USDA report on potato wart crisis: Extent of infestation on Prince Edward Island ‘likely larger’, current mitigation measures ‘insufficient’
On October 14, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service released a comprehensive report on the current status of the potato wart crisis on Prince Edward Island, Canada, stating that PEI’s potato wart infestation is “likely” larger than reported and that the virus is “almost certain to be introduced” to the United States without additional mitigation measures in place.
Lamb Weston announced today that it will purchase the remaining equity interests in its European joint venture with Meijer Frozen Foods B.V. for €700 million. Upon completion of the transaction, Lamb Weston will own 100% of Lamb-Weston/Meijer. “Lamb-Weston/Meijer was built over the last 28 years, and we’re grateful to Meijer Frozen Foods for their longstanding partnership,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO of Lamb Weston.
The NFU has welcomed the launch of the voluntary initiative of GB Potatoes this week, which should fill gaps left in the industry since the demise of AHDB Potatoes. NFU Potato Forum Chair Tim Rooke said: “There have been crucial gaps left in the industry since the demise of AHDB Potatoes, such as a dedicated, sector-specific voice for the broader industry… Some growers will therefore welcome this voluntary initiative to help address some of these gaps…”
GB Potatoes: Newly launched trade body aims to ‘bring the industry together’ through all-sector representation
A brand-new industry body, GB Potatoes Ltd, was launched the past week. GB Potatoes says it plans to unite the UK potato industry and work with existing produce trade associations to represent the potato sector’s interests and future development in the wake of AHDB Potatoes discontinuation. Mark Taylor, Inaugural Chair of GB Potatoes said, “Our launch couldn’t come at a more important time for the GB Potato Industry. The Great British Potato needs to be championed!”
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has continued his campaign to restore access to the export markets in the EU and Northern Ireland for Scottish seed potatoes. Prior to Brexit, Scottish seed potatoes were a crucial import for European markets. However, since January 2021 Scotland’s farmers have been unable to export seed potatoes to the EU, including Northern Ireland, because of changes in trade regulations as a result of Brexit.
Farmers warned supermarkets will be selling shorter chips and smaller potatoes after a lack of rain this summer impacted crops. Tim Rooke, chair of the National Farmers Union’s potato forum, said the industry had struggled. He said the summer had been “very difficult” for the industry, with the yield for those who had not been able to irrigate their crops down between 25 percent and 40 percent.
It looks like being a tough season for potatoes across much of the world. The hot dry weather during the growing season in most production countries has had a severe effect on potatoes, as for many other crops, as FreshPlaza reports in an extensive overview of the potato market situation in many potato producing regions and countries around the world.
Potatoes USA says in its latest monthly newsletter that potato retail sales increased in dollar sales but decreased in volume sales from July 2021 – June 2022, compared to the same timeframe a year ago. As consumer prices increased by 10.5%, retail dollar sales increased by 5.7%. The total volume sales decreased 4.4% from the same time a year ago, but they remained above volume sales prior to the pandemic. Dollar sales have continuously increased over the last five years.
The prices of basic foods including chicken, vegetables, milk and potatoes have increased by up to 60% in local supermarkets in Britain over the last six months. According to a report by Joel Adams for Eastern Daily Press (EDP), a standard 2.5kg bag of white potatoes in both Sainsbury’s and Tesco are now an eye-watering 61 or 62% more expensive than in April respectively, and have shot up 51% in Aldi too. Norfolk potato farmers said retail prices continue to climb through the autumn.
Potato retail sales increased in dollar sales and decreased slightly in volume from April – June 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, according to Potatoes USA. The industry body says as prices increased by 13.6%, dollar sales increased by 12.6%. The three categories that comprise the largest percentage of volume sales, which include potato chips, frozen potatoes, and fresh potatoes, all grew in dollar sales but fell slightly in volume sales.
Australia’s potato industry has welcomed to two key commitments realised under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which are set to improve access to the Thai market. Thailand has now implemented zero tariffs and removed tariff rate quotas that limited the volume of Australian seed and processing potatoes that could access the lower TAFTA tariff.
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has warned DEFRA Farming Minister Victoria Prentis that the “clock is ticking” for Scottish seed potato exports as the Irish Government put in place a €3million investment scheme in their domestic potato growers in a bid to capitalise on the ban on imports of Scottish seed potatoes. Irish Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said this presents a timely opportunity for the Irish seed potato sector to develop capacity and expand
Farmers struggling to make ends meet: Simplot and Tasmanian spud farmers in standoff over rising prices
Farmers have rejected a second price offer made by food manufacturer Simplot for their potato crop this season. They say the extra $105 a tonne the company has put forward is still not enough to cover the cost of growing their crop this season, which is around $20,000 a hectare. As Laurissa Smith and Fiona Breen report for ABC Rural, Sassafras farmer and contractor Scott Rockliff said inputs including fuel and fertiliser were spiralling. Farmers said they were thinking about other options, whether it be more sheep or cattle or other crops.
U.S. farmers started shipping fresh potatoes into the Mexican interior in May, about 20 years after an initial deal was signed between the two countries. But farmers aren’t sure the deal will last, according to Jim Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in Monte Vista. “We’re really skeptical that Mexico will not find a reason to shut the market down again,” he said.
A 4kg bag of humble potatoes is set to join iceberg lettuce in the $12 club at Australian supermarkets in coming weeks as farmers warn of a potential 30 per cent price rise. And with a price hike in potatoes comes a jump in the price of Australian’s beloved hot chips, with rises expected at restaurants, fish and chip shops, fast-food chains and pubs.
Retail markets in Ireland remain static as school holidays are in full swing; demand for the processing sector is buoyant, according to this week’s market report by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). The area of earlies planted is slightly less than 2021 area. Across Europe, processing activity continues to be very strong but buyers are now much more relaxed.
Commodities markets are in uproar, wheat prices have reached record highs and the cost of food is rocketing. “Yet the humble spud – a staple grown on our doorstep – is still cheap and plentiful,” writes Sarah Chambers in a news story for East Anglian Daily Times. This year’s East Anglian potato crop is looking very promising. But prices are low – making some of the farmers’ crops uneconomical.