McCain Foods has installed its proprietary world-leading, technology in the form of a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) generator, as part of the company’s latest upgrade to its Smithton plant in Tasmania, Australia. The PEF generator is another example of McCain’s commitment to producing more with less, as the $1.8 million project, which incorporates McCain’s proprietary technology, results in potatoes being pulsed with an electric field rather than steamed, slashing the plant’s energy and water usage.
The food service sector begins to slowly re-open as outdoor dining returned last weekend, according to the latest market report by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). European processors exported a record 184,000 tonnes of product in March.
Following the first anniversary of the publication of the Farm to Fork Strategy by the European Commission, Europatat and twelve other association members of the Agri-Food Chain Roundtable on Plant Protection have co-signed an open letter on the importance of carrying out a comprehensive assessment before making any decisions about the reduction of pesticide use, including the target for 50% reduction of the use of chemicals.
As part of today’s release of McCain’s 2020 Global Sustainability report the company is pledging that it will be implementing regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its global potato acreage by 2030. This transition will restore and protect soil health and quality and look to natural processes to control pests, prevent plant disease and strengthen crops against severe weather events.
Against the backdrop of 20 successful years as Certis USA, the company this week announced a brand change to Certis Biologicals. The company says in a press release that the new brand acknowledges the importance of biological-based crop inputs to farmers around the globe and cements the company’s legacy of leadership as manufacturer, supplier and innovator of biological crop protection solutions.
Tesco has become the first retailer in Ireland to make its packaging for 1kg new season potatoes fully recyclable while also reducing the amount of paper used in its 2.5kg potato packaging. This step change on packaging will commence on a 12-week trial basis in 100 stores, with plans to roll out the changes to more products if successful. As one of Ireland’s favourite grocery items, this change will have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste.
Canada’s pesticide regulator said last week that farmers could keep using the chemical imidacloprid to control crop-destroying insects under stricter conditions, softening an earlier proposal to ban it. Farmers use imidacloprid to protect fruits and vegetables from aphids and beetles. The PMRA stated on May 19 that in-furrow application for root and tuber vegetables, including potatoes, was cancelled. This was due to the maximum application rate being reduced to 100 g a.i./ha. Potato foliar applications have been reduced to one per season.
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.
Once neglected by urban consumers, Andean native potatoes are now essential ingredients for some of the most sophisticated gastronomy of the world, according to the authors of this article, published in Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues. André Devaux, Guy Hareau, Miguel Ordinola, Jorge Andrade-Piedra, and Graham Thiele write, “from colored chips to delicacy vegetables and even liquors, new products are making their way into high-income market niches.”
As plantings for the 2021 potato crop in North-western Europe is wrapping up, the NEPG reports that the final planted potato area within the NEPG region (EU-4) will most likely be reduced by 3 to 5 percent. The so-called EU-4 countries include the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. NEPG says this is an absolutely historical event. The free market is in a bullish mood, as processors expect some kind of boom or at least an increase in demand in the coming weeks and months.
One of the UK’s largest potato crisp manufacturers, Tyrrells, has taken its latest step in a continued sustainability drive by converting its energy supply to liquefied natural gas (LNG) which will reduce its carbon emissions by over 14% per year. Tyrrells produces over 86 million bags of crisps every year. With high energy demands to consider, the company wanted to find a way of increasing efficiencies in order to lower its carbon footprint.
Memorial Day on May 31 in the US is expected to kick off an anticipated ‘breakout summer’ as consumers catch up on activities they missed out on last year, and however and wherever consumers are celebrating, snacks will be plentiful, Frito-Lay says in a press release. Frito-Lay’s latest U.S. Snack Index, a poll focused on consumers’ snacking habits, found that eight in 10 indicated they plan many activities outside the house during Memorial Day.
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%.
This season we are receiving a lot of reports of high levels of softening, dehydration and compression damage from potato store managers, says Adrian Cunnington, AHDB’s Head of Crop Storage Research at Sutton Bridge CSR. He says the problem could be associated with a number of factors, including Seasonal/climatic conditions, storage environment (temperature/humidity), poorer skin set (loss of diquat?), inadequate sprout control and more.
AZterknot fungicide from Vive Crop Protection received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently. AZterknot fungicide is the world’s first three-way fungicide combination that harnesses the benefits of biologicals, the performance of chemistry and the ease of Allosperse. Allosperse is proprietary nano-polymer technology developed by Vive Crop Protection that allows previously incompatible products to be mixed and applied in one application, reducing fuel, time and water usage.
A row over a huge potato processing plant has exposed flaws in the country’s reliance on a single crop. In Frameries, campaigners call for farmers to diversify. For three years, residents in Frameries, a town in French-speaking Hainaut in the south-west of Belgium, have battled against the proposed construction of a €300m (£258m) factory, which it is said would increase Belgian production of processed potato products by a third. Belgium is already the world’s largest exporter of pre-fried potato products.
The quest for shelf-stable french fries with no refrigeration: Startup’s sustainable tech takes food farther
Farther Farms is a food tech startup with Cornell roots. Its innovative sterilization technology produces shelf-stable foods that don’t need freezing or refrigeration. Their first product is the world’s first commercially available shelf-stable french fry – a major addition to an industry dominated by frozen fries first invented in the 1940s. By sidestepping cold storage, the company aims to open new markets in regions that lack refrigeration while reducing supply chain costs and carbon emissions.
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.
Sweden’s Starch Producers ready to put CRISPR to work in developing ‘new climate-smart potato varieties’
Sweden’s Starch Producers organization expressed a very positive view about this conclusion from the European Commission’s study into new genomic techniques, and of the fresh optimism that it will now potentially be possible to use the CRISPR technique. Sweden’s Starch Producers will now be able to commercialise the efforts it has made in this field within the EU. They began a drive to use the CRISPR technique to develop new, climate-smart varieties of seed potatoes in 2014. The new varieties are now being cultivated for the second year.
Potato acreage in Canada will not be officially reported until early July, so it is often helpful to take an early look at industry projections across the country, says Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada in an industry report. MacIsaac says the analysis is more difficult this year as demand for potato products returns to pre-COVID levels. This is further precipitated by delayed contract negotiations between processors and growers across the country for pricing, and now the determination of volume needed for 21-22, he says.
Brits have shown their love for the humble spud, with AHDB’s latest jacket potato campaign receiving over 55.3 million social impressions during the six-week period. The New Packed Lunch’ campaign, which ran from 18 February – 31 March 2021, ran across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok, to remind consumers of the virtues of the classic baked potato.
Global packaging and paper manufacturer Mondi has partnered with Polish compostable packaging producer SILBO to develop paper-based, eco-friendly packaging for potatoes. Created for Irish farm potato business Meade Farm Group, the packaging has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The solution will enable Meade to replace hard-to-recycle plastic with paper in line with its sustainability targets.
‘Foods that go farther’: Farther Farms closing the French fry gap, revolutionizing food processing, transportation, storage
Today, the French fry. Tomorrow, the global food supply chain. Farther Farms is a high-growth food technology start-up, based in Rochester, NY, working to solve one of society’s greatest challenges: how to make food go farther. The company began by creating the world’s first commercially-available shelf-stable, fresh-cut style French fry that’s never-frozen and ready-to-cook. The French fries have a 90-day shelf life at room temperature – no artificial preservatives added, and no freezing or refrigeration required.
Valmont to acquire Prospera, creating world’s largest vertically-integrated AI company in agriculture
US-based Valmont Industries, known for its irrigation equipment solutions, including Valley Irrigation, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Prospera Technologies Inc. an Israeli-based AI company. The transaction will create the largest global, vertically-integrated AI company in agriculture. Using the pivot as the digital data hub, this solution brings demonstrated, advanced agronomy to the field enabling the grower to take immediate action to remediate issues.
The European Potato Trade Association (Europatat) is part of an international consortium involved in the research project ADAPT (“Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”). The project aims to develop new strategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging climatic growth conditions expected in future.
Potato growers in Northern Ireland whose incomes have been directly impacted by the pandemic will receive financial aid, the government has announced. FarmingUK reports that the Covid-19 support package will contribute towards the verifiable losses incurred by farmers and growers during periods of lockdown. The financial aid will help to address the cash flow difficulties and financial impact of losing valuable markets.
The most common potato variety grown in North America is the Russet Burbank, which is mainly grown in the Pacific Northwest. But as the climate there gets warmer and drier, growing these tubers may become more difficult. To help the industry adapt, Richard Novy, a potato breeder and plant geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Idaho, and other scientists have been developing new, more resilient potato varieties, including the Blazer Russet and Clearwater Russet.