Trends

Pesticides and food: ‘It’s not a black or white issue’

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring drew attention to pesticides and their possible dangers to humans, birds, mammals and the environment. Some of her conclusions and warnings have not held up over time, but Silent Spring produced a movement that changed how the U.S. thought about chemicals and biotechnology.

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IFA: Retail potato demand buoyant in Ireland, lockdowns stifling demand in Europe

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.

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COVID-19 compliance costly for Washington State potato growers, packers

In a recently completed survey by the IMPACT Center at Washington State University, it was found that Washington State farm families’ direct compliance outlays to manage COVID-10 were roughly $2,532 per month. Direct compliance outlays were found to be much higher for those businesses packing potatoes at $4,340 per month.

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The potato soft rot complex in the US is changing: Is this good news?

This past winter, two well known potato pathologists stated that the incidence of Dickeya dianthicola is declining in the U.S., writes Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist at the Ontario Potato Board, in a recent article. Dr. Banks is of the opinion that additional novel and potentially high virulent soft rot species probably remain to be discovered, and this high level of diversity will hinder the development of tolerant potato varieties. “This is not good news!,” Dr. Banks says.

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Second pandemic wave caused depressed British potato market

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.

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‘Cut and fried’: Northwest spud farmers take a deep hit on their processing contracts

The Northwest farmers who grow potatoes for your French fries are themselves plenty fried. The three massive agribusiness companies that make much of the world’s frozen fries, tots and hashbrowns are going to pay Northwest potato farmers less this year. “It really is a punch in the gut,” says Adam Weber, a 27-year-old, third-generation grower in Quincy in Washington’s Columbia Basin. Farmers like Weber say they’ve already taken a hit from the pandemic and higher fertilizer costs.

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Sustainability for the agriculture industry: The era of precision ag has arrived

In celebrating National Agriculture Week and National Ag Day the past week, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in the US published this article to highlight the role that precision agriculture plays in sustainability for the agriculture industry. “For the environmental benefits of precision agriculture to take shape, farmers need to generate more yield and at least break even from a financial standpoint,” said AEM Senior Vice President of Ag Services Curt Blades. “Technology now affords farmers the ability to do even more — things that could never have happened before.

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Prince Edward Island potato growers optimistic, but worries around markets and seed supply

Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato growers say they’re optimistic for the 2021 season, after the roller-coaster ride of 2020, which included the COVID-19 pandemic, and a hot, dry summer that cut into yields. “Potato growers today are a little better off than they were a year ago, because a year ago, we were in total chaos,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada.

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New Zealand: The local chippie industry under threat?

The impact of Covid-19 on the chip industry in the Northern Hemisphere is putting locally grown and processed hot potato chips at the local chippie under threat. Potatoes NZ CEO Chris Claridge is looking for Government action to protect New Zealand potato farmers from the influx of frozen fries grown and processed in Europe undercutting their locally grown equivalent.

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New problems arise for crop storage as planet gets warmer

For generations, Brian Sackett’s family has farmed potatoes that are made into chips found on grocery shelves in much of the eastern U.S. About 25% of the nation’s potato chips get their start in Michigan, where reliably cool air during September harvest and late spring has been ideal for crop storage. But with temperatures edging higher, Sackett had to buy several small refrigeration units for his sprawling warehouses. Last year, he paid $125,000 for a bigger one.

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Potential for an increased potato area in Ireland this year?

As we approach April, we are at a critical time for the industry in relation to the upcoming season, says the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) in its weekly market report. The organisation says there are reports that some growers are planning to plant increased acreage this year. “If this is the case, the supply and demand plateau will be disrupted,” the IFA says in its report.

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A marketing strategy that works: Idahoan Foods reached nearly 5 million new households since start of pandemic

Idahoan Foods saw sales of its fresh-dried mashed potato products rise during the pandemic as consumers cooked more meals at home. Consumers embraced more time at home by experimenting with new recipes, reaching for global flavors as a way to explore other cultures, and showed off their skills on social media. Idahoan tapped into these rapidly evolving consumer trends and pivoted marketing strategies throughout the year in order to connect with new households and keep encouraging consumers.

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Utz CEO: Boulder Canyon potato chips doing well with customers looking for healthier snacks

Some Utz Brands buyers are opting for snacks with healthier ingredients such as the avocado oil used to cook the Boulder Canyon potato chips, Utz Brands CEO Dylan Lissette told CNBC. The snack company has been rebranding and developing the Boulder Canyon chips since it bought its manufacturer Inventure Foods in 2017, said Lissette on CNBC’s Mad Money. “We’ve got a lot of excitement around those ‘better for you brands’,” Lissette said.

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Study: ‘Grower knowledge is central to improving PCN management’

It is widely accepted that potato cyst nematodes are a serious threat to the viability of potato production and yet despite efforts to promote better management practices the area of infested land continues to increase. There are many explanations for this trend in the UK, not least the lack of market acceptance to those varieties with good resistance, which is considered essential to reducing populations, but the dwindling supply of clean land is also a serious concern, according to an article by Bayer Crop Science in the UK.

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Pre-packed potatoes make a comeback during pandemic year in Britain

Throughout 2019, pre-packed potatoes lost out to loose potatoes as consumer concerns around plastic rose. However, as the coronavirus pandemic hit, this reversed, according to a report by Rebecca Gladman, Retail Insight Manager at AHDB. She reports that pre-packed potatoes’ share of volume reached 94.4% in the 12 w/e 21 Feb 2021 – an increase pof 1.6 percentage points on 2020 and the highest level it’s been at for around five years (Kantar).

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Webinar shows benefits of digital decision support tools for potato growers

Digital decision support tools will play an increasingly important role for potato farmers, that was the message from an industry-focused webinar held recently, hosted by CHAP (Crop Health and Protection Ltd) in the UK. Speakers at the event showed how developing a robust resistance management strategy in potatoes depends on a willingness to plan, the use of alternative modes of action, and the adoption of future technologies.

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British potato exports fell in January to lowest recorded this marketing season

The latest HMRC trade data covers up to January 2021, the first month following the exit of the UK from the EU trade bloc. According to Alex Cook, Analyst Potatoes & Cereals and Oilseeds at AHDB, across all categories recorded, imports and exports have fallen from December with figures at the lowest reported this marketing season. This comes as little surprise, given the reports of delays and difficulties at ports around the UK during the first weeks of January. The imposing of strict lockdown measures in the UK throughout January until present have restricted demand levels, reducing the import requirement.

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Canadian govt working with farmers to accelerate adoption of climate-smart best practices

Farmers are on the front lines of worsening climate impacts, and face increasing risk of wildfires and extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts. The best way to build climate resiliency across Canadian agriculture’s diversity of realities and landscapes is by developing and deploying solutions that are tailored for each region, led by farmers and farm groups themselves, the Government of Canada says in a press release.

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Researchers review the spread of late blight across Asia over a century and a half

Researchers Sanjoy Guha Roy, Tanmoy Dey, David E. L. Cooke and Louise R. Cooke recently published this review in the journal Plant Pathology. In a news article for the The British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) the research team writes they have scoured the literature to report on the dynamics of Phytophthora infestans (1870-2020) that has shadowed the expansion of potato cropping.

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Climate change study predicts 70% increase of late blight in east Scotland in future

A new study by the Met Office in the UK gives examples of how two of the UK’s most important farming sectors are likely to be impacted by climate change. The study examines the effect of climate change on the dairy and potato farming sectors over the next thirty to fifty years. In the future climate the authors concluded that late blight is likely to occur more often across the UK, with the greatest increases in western and northern regions.

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Kenyan potato production expected to surge, farmers encouraged to switch

Kenya’s potato production could hit 2.5 million tonnes in 2021 up from the estimated 2 million tonnes produced in 2020, the industry said last Friday. Wachira Kaguongo, CEO of National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) told Xinhua in Nairobi that both production and demand were affected last year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We expect production to rebound in 2021 due to favorable weather as well as increased potato seed distribution to farmers,” Kaguongo said.

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Lamb Weston branded french fries arrive in South America

Lamb Weston recently announced the arrival of Lamb Weston branded french fries in Mercosur. This was made possible through a joint venture with Sociedad Comercial del Plata in Argentina, called Lamb Weston Alimentos Modernos S.A. (AMSA). These two globally renowned companies have come together to bring the Lamb Weston brand to Foodservice in the region.

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