Trade/Markets/Prices

Potato crisis in Washington state: 1 billion of 3 billion pounds in storage might not be used, says exec director

The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has slammed broadside against the Washington potato and dairy industries, with both facing the prospect of dumping product because markets have disappeared, reports Thomas Clouse of The Spokesman-Review. Washington growers have 1 billion pounds of potatoes in storage with no place to sell them, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission. “That’s a lot of potatoes,” Voigt said. “Every man, woman and child in Washington state would have to eat 200 pounds of potatoes between now and the Fourth of July.”

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Newly launched food marketplace creates vital network for local British food producers

A new online marketplace, Foodens has launched in the UK – connecting shops and food suppliers with their local communities. Businesses can list food boxes for sale (for both collection and delivery), helping to distribute food across the UK in a safe zero-contact manner, Farmers Guide reports. Foodens.com is run by the Foodens Foundation, a non-profit organisation.

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How Coronavirus has changed the British potato market and the way AHDB supports the industry

This week AHDB Potatoes in the UK published a podcast outlining some of its analysis into consumer and wholesale markets, our thinking on consumer marketing and some of the ways that the lockdown has affected AHDB’s services to the industry. In this episode you will hear, among others, from Dr Sophie Churchill, chair of the Potato Board, who will offer an overview of the work that’s underway to support the British potato industry.

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FreshPlaza publishes latest COVID-19 news update

FreshPlaza reports in its latest fresh produce news update on the Coronavirus pandemic that Belgium’s potato industry is asking its government for financial aid, whereas France calls for urgent EU help. In the US, president Trump will unveil $15.5 billion first phase of coronavirus farm aid amid reports that the combined North American potato acreage is expected to plummet.

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US potatoes and the CARES Act

Bob Larson of AgInfo reports that the USDA and Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue have some tough decisions to make in the coming days. They have to decide how to allocate the $9.5-billion dollars earmarked for agriculture in the CARES Act relief package. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles says while that’s a significant amount, it won’t be nearly enough.

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Scottish potato industry eyes up potato market

Scottish potato production continues to thrive in the current crisis, but with a collapse in the food service sector, fresh market suppliers could face increased competition from the processing market who are looking for a space on the shelves.

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Irish potato supplier signs €62.5m deal with Tesco

Dublin-based fresh food business Country Crest has extended its contract to supply potatoes and onions to Tesco in a €62.5 million deal over the next 2½ years. The family-owned company, run by brothers Gabriel and Michael Hoey, has signed a deal to supply the supermarket chain with 36,000 tonnes annually of own-brand potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes until September 2022. Country Crest also[Read More…]

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Dutch potato association explores solutions for afflicted processing industry

The “Nederlandse Aardappel Organisatie” (NAO) expressed their support for their members who are dealing with unforeseen challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. On their website NAO acknowledges there are companies that cannot cope with the work, for example in the table potato market, while in the catering market, demand has completely disappeared and companies are therefore partly stalling. As much as 90% of the demand in the processing industry has suddenly disappeared.

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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.

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Coronavirus crashes the European processing industry

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…]

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The impact of the ban on CIPC use on potato export: A Dutch perspective

The ban on the sprout inhibitor, chlorpropham (CIPC), is causing much controversy in the European potato industry. In an article by Martine van der Wekken of FreshPlaza, the author writes that the discontinuation of the use of CIPC could lead to significant issues, especially for Dutch potato exports to far-away destinations, when these products have to remain in containers for about two weeks or even longer during transit.

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Ireland’s Keogh’s sees potato sales surge

A surge in consumer demand for healthy home-cooked foods has seen a “phenomenal” uplift in fresh potato sales – with increases as high as 70% with certain customers, according to Tom Keogh, managing director of well-known potato and crisp company Keogh’s. Speaking to AgriLand, Keogh outlined the impact that Covid-19, and the subsequent measures to limit the coronavirus, have had on his company and the broader industry.

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UK: Fairfields Farm launches free potato delivery service

Essex potato farmers have responded to the coronavirus crisis by setting up a free home delivery service for the local community. Potato producer and crisp maker Fairfields Farm, which is based in Wormingford, near Colchester, is delivering sacks and boxes of potatoes, and hand-cooked crisps made at a factory on the farm. The highly successful crisp business was set up[Read More…]

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US: COVID-19, short supplies create hot potato market

Twenty-year potato industry veteran Lance Poole of Idaho-based Eagle Eye Produce Inc. was unequivocal in using the descriptor “hot” to describe the current potato market. “I’ve only seen a ‘hot’ market like this one other time in my more than 20 years in the industry,” said the executive vice president of the Idaho Falls company. “That was in 1998-99 soon[Read More…]

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Free potato market in Belgium collapsed due to COVID-19

Due to the corona virus the free market of potatoes has completely collapsed. The PCA/Fiwap and the Belgapom price quotation has been suspended because of a lack of transactions on the free market of potatoes. According to Romain Cools of Belgapom, the federation of the Belgian potato processing and trade, in the meantime panic broke out among potato growers. Said[Read More…]

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Ireland: Potato demand from retailers soars; food service takes hit

With the current coronavirus situation developing over the past week, demand across all sectors has been mixed, according to the IFA. Demand from retailers this week has soared and is reportedly as high as the Christmas period when trade normally peaks. The food service industry is experiencing a hit due to decreased footfall and closures. Meanwhile plantings continue this week across the country.

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Europatat: European organizations issues statement on food security amid the Covid-19 outbreak

The European organisations CopaCogeca, FoodDrinkEurope and Celcaa (the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade, of which Europatat is a member) have released a joint statement in which they assure that “Europe’s food supply chain will work closely together to ensure everybody in Europe continues to have access to safe, quality and affordable food and drink products during the Coronavirus pandemic”.

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Idaho stores somehow selling out of potatoes

Odd as it may sound, Idaho retailers have been experiencing fresh potato shortages lately, John O’Connell of Post Register reports. Several produce departments throughout the Gem State were sold out of every potato consumer bag and loose spud by Tuesday, as consumers seeking to stock their pantries for the coronavirus outbreak bought foods that store well by the cartload. “It is strange. I didn’t think I’d ever see a shortage, at least at the store level, of potatoes in Idaho,” said Travis Blacker, industry relations director with the Idaho Potato Commission.

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COVID-19: Labour shortage but plenty fruits and vegetables available

The horticultural industry in general relies greatly on international workers and the travel limitations could become a serious issue. “I’ve been on the phone all morning and with this Covid-19 virus and people not being allowed into the country, the farming community in British Columbia [Canada] is in a panic because there’s so many farmers that rely on the arrival of migrant workers from Mexico and Central America.” Also in New Zealand the effects become clear. The situation in Australia is the same.

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India: Windfall for Punjab’s potato farmers as crop hits all-time high prices

It’s a happy time for the potato farmers of Punjab, with their crop hitting the highest rate ever known due to low production in other states because of a delayed monsoon last year. Farmers are currently getting Rs 1,600 per quintal for their table crop, which is currently being harvested. For the past four years, they had been getting Rs 300 to Rs 400 per quintal. Traders and stockists of other states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are hoping to get higher prices after purchasing the crop from Punjab.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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