In the August 7 issue of Potato Weekly, AHDB Analyst Anthony Speight writes that once again trade across the week can been described as relatively subdued in the UK. The Government’s new “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme started this week. The scheme is designed to encourage people to visit restaurants, cafes and pubs, which have been badly hit by the lockdown. Diners across the UK will be able to enjoy half-price meals at eat-in food and drink venues on Monday to Wednesdays at more than 72,000 venues. Speight writes that it’s still quite early to see if this will re-energise potato trade.
Declining consumption of potatoes in Australia is not enough reason to block the sale of Thomas Foods International’s potato packing business to fellow South Australian-based rival Mitolo, says the national competition regulator. “Feedback from potato growers and other industry participants suggested if Mitolo sought to lower prices it paid growers, most producers would be able to switch to rival packing sheds,” said ACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh.
In the latest IFA potato market report published today, it is said that the market for the food service sector remains very flat as pubs and restaurants are slow to get going again. Retail demand has leveled off but remains positive. The early market is holding quite well and lifting continues along the east coast, however, there are more reports this week that tuber numbers are down. The NEPG expect the EU crop to be slightly higher this year. Plantings have increased by around 0.5%.
The potato industry in Australia is now in a state of ‘high alert’ for any potential French fries dumping activity from the EU, highlighting its chief concerns as price plummeting and farmer welfare after a tough season. The alert was raised after the European Union (EU) recently passed an EUR650mn (US$741.1/A$1.1.mn) COVID-19 government assistance scheme that would enable EU firms to export their processed potatoes cheaply Down Under, where before it had never been a common avenue.
In the major metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, potatoes are selling for Rs 30-45 per kg, depending on the variety and quality. In Mumbai, a kg of potato is priced at Rs 35-45, while in Delhi and Kolkata prices are hovering between Rs 30-40 per kg. Potato traders from Uttar Pradesh, the largest producer of potatoes in India, said prices are unlikely to come down until November, when the new crop starts coming in.
Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced in a press release today its fiscal fourth quarter and full year 2020 results and provided a business update for the first quarter of fiscal 2021. “The final months of fiscal 2020 were some of the most challenging in our Company’s history,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO.
The Prime Minister of Sri lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that the import of potatoes will be halted, following the general election. He mentioned this at a public meeting held in Boralanda, Welimada, last evening, July 26. Rajapaksa said that an era of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is an era where the farmer will become the king. Currently, there is no fair price for vegetable farmers and potato farmers, the Premier pointed out.
AUSVEG, the industry representative for Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed the announcement from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud that two key commitments are now realised under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which will improve market access for Australian potato exporters into the Thai market.
The latest HMRC import and export data is now out and this covers up to May 2020. Both imports and exports season-to-date (Jul-May) were down compared to both last year and the 3-year average. The driver of the overall drop in imports comes from processing, primarily the reduction in frozen potato products coming into the UK. Exports have also taken a hit this year with May figures dramatically down, at 19.3Kt. Year-on-year comparison shows a drop of 79% for total exports (-73.3Kt).
Potatoes USA reports that retail potato sales are soaring, increasing 31% in dollar sales and 32% in volume sales between March 16, 2020 and June 14, 2020, according to IRI. All potato categories across the retail store, except deli-prepared sides, increased in dollar and volume sales, Potatoes USA says in a press release. The majority of potato categories saw double-digit growth in both dollar sales and volume sales. Dehydrated potatoes had the largest increase in dollar and volume sales. Dollar sales increased by 59%, and volume sales increased by 49%.
Potatoes remain a leading category staple at retail. As growers keep pace with increasing demand, Potatoes USA continues to bring value for both growers and retailers. Lilian Diep, writer for AndNowUknow got in touch with the organization to learn more about the initiatives and studies that will take place this upcoming fiscal year. “We’re working on a couple of things over this next year. Right now, all of our retail growers are moving at full capacity to bring products into stores,” Kayla Dome, Marketing Manager, said.
In this episode of the Agri Market Report from AHDB, John Bates talks to AHDB Consumer Insight Analysts David Swales and Sarah Baker about the challenges faced by the agricultural sector in 2020 and what the future may hold for the industry.
“Maybe it’s my DNA, my Irish roots, but I love potatoes. Agria, Red Rascals, Ilam Hardy…spuds rock. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Oamaru Jersey Bennies. Our one billion dollar potato industry is a relatively intimate one, employing around five thousand people, in growing and processing. With year round harvesting, it’s a stable employer. And the industry deserves a fair go.” So said New Zealander Mike Yardley on the Mike Hosking breakfast show this morning.
To make up for the monthly potato production shortfall, drought stricken Namibia will have to spend around N$160,2 million on potato imports for the next five months – N$13 million a month. This was revealed by the Namibia Agronomic Board. The country’s production forecast for the next five months revealed that local farmers will only produce 8 121 tonnes of potatoes, while the country needs 19 144 tonnes. Potatoes are the most consumed fresh produce product in the country, with an average demand of 3 800 tonnes every month.
The National Potato Council released a statement Thursday, July 9, after an announcement by USDA that it is issuing revised payment rates for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which previously prevented potato growers from receiving equitable access to relief funds. “The potato industry appreciates the rapid work of USDA in considering these changes and making potatoes eligible for all three categories of payments. We believe the economic justification submitted by the industry strongly supports the meaningful inclusion of potatoes in this relief program, given the devastation faced by the industry due to the government-mandated food service shutdown,” said Britt Raybould, NPC President.
According to information published in the Irish Farmers Association’s weekly potato report, there were mixed reviews on trade in the food-sector service over the weekend as pubs and restaurants began to re-open. Retail demand remains buoyant with colder weather than expected for July so far. In Europe improved growing conditions are reported over the last week, particularly in Eastern Europe. Market disruption remains in place, with fears of a ‘second-wave’ in some countries.
US potato industry experts see mixed foreign trade outlook, increase of french fry imports from the EU
International trade experts within the potato industry are encouraged by a new trade agreement with China but have concerns about a rise in frozen fry imports from Europe. Matt Lantz, vice president for global access at Bryant Christie, summarized international trends and trade issues. The export market for U.S. potatoes continues to grow, and while the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a reduction of exports, there’s still promising news in the international markets for U.S. potato growers, he said. “There has been a major surge of fries from the EU, and I say the term ‘surge’ very deliberately,” Lantz said.
The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates that the area for consumption potatoes in North-Western Europe increased with 0,5% compared with last year towards 621.148 ha. Under current market conditions, this is considered as too large an acreage, however, the COVID-19 situation arrived at a time when growers already ordered their seed potatoes and rented potato land, and for many it was too late for an area reduction. According to the NEPG, there are many more questions than answers during the current growing season in most potato producing countries around the world.
Coronavirus continues to impede on demand across all sectors in the British potato industry, with mixed reviews on what the effect the reopening of pubs and restaurants will have, according to Alice Bailey, Senior Analyst at AHDB. Until food-service and catering returns to normal, free-buy supply will be limited in the processing sector. Unfortunately in the short to medium term these demand corridors are unlikely to return to normal, but will hopefully move in the right direction.
With the nation continuing to reel from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Potato Council’s annual summer meeting was held using Zoom teleconferencing and Facebook on June 25. Potato sales have slightly rebounded but the impact to institutional food sales across the nation following quarantine measures taken in the middle of March continues to reverberate, according to Raybould. Kam Quarles, NPC’s CEO, said the USDA’s most recent efforts to provide additional financial assistance to specialty crops, including potatoes, has missed the mark
Farmers and the wider food supply chain are used to responding to changing consumer requirements. However, it is hard to recall a time when the consumer landscape changed quite as dramatically as over these last three months of lockdown. AHDB has been following these changes closely, so whether considering shopping behaviour or the rise of in-home eating, AHDB has been reporting on the key issues which affect the demand for sectors’ products. Within this article, David Swales, AHDB Head of Strategic Insight, summarises some of the key factors which shape consumer demand.
While the US market has tightened over the last few weeks as orders from foodservice outlets return and shoppers continue to buy more potatoes and potato products for home consumption, there has been a decidedly weaker tone to the EU market as it becomes apparent that growers have not cut back plantings this year and the weather becomes more favourable for the growing crop. This observation is made by Cedric Porter, Editor of World Potato Markets.