Wisconsin spuds had a shaky start to the COVID-19 pandemic, but high consumer demand has put potatoes in a good spot, says the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The retail demand increased tremendously with the advent of COVID,” Executive Director Tamas Houlihan said. “Grocery store sales were through the roof, people were stocking up, and they weren’t buying the usual 5 and 10 pound bags. They were buying as much as they could.”
According to a report by Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor at Food Processing, McCain Foods is delaying the expansion of its potato processing facility in Othello, Wash., due to the coronavirus pandemic. Demetrakakes says the project at the facility, about 100 miles southwest of Spokane, would have added another 170,000 square feet to the plant for a new processing line for battered and conventional French fries.
It was common for a fruit or vegetable to be having a good winter in terms of volume, pricing and demand, and then in mid-March, when lockdowns began, the item would see a sudden demand surge then crash. Greg Johnson, Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services reports. Johnson writes that no produce item shows this pandemic effect as clearly as potatoes, whose average F.O.B. price has been about half of what it was in early March, as demand has been significantly damaged by restaurant, school and institution closures.
According to a report published earlier this week by the Washington Ag Network, the National Potato Council and state grower organizations wrote Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last week to talk about potatoes that have nowhere to go for processing. According to the Council, more than 1.5 billion pounds of fresh potatoes for processing and potato products are trapped in the supply chain with no likely customers.
As Alberta’s potato industry in Canada reels from the devastation of COVID-19, one industry spokesperson says he is worried the mental health and wellness of farmers could be at stake. Terence Hochstein, executive director for the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA), said recent blows to potato farms have stoked his concerns for farm families. Hochstein said the industry is sitting on some 100,000 tons of potatoes right now that need to be processed by September.
Secretariat of Europatat: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, European potato traders have been working around the clock not only to keep the potato supply chain running but also to help combat Covid-19. In this article you can take a look at those Europatat’s members actions that have been carried out all around Europe in the past weeks. We would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to all of you. You are our #foodheroes!
Plant biotechnology is poised to drastically improve how we consume medication. Using the modern tools of genetic engineering, researchers are developing plant-based drugs that are cheaper, easier to take and even more effective than their existing counterparts. Tautvydas Shuipys reports for the Genetic Literacy Project. A Canada-based company has announced that using this same technology, they have produced a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in twenty days.
Potatoes New Zealand is asking the New Zealand government to give urgent consideration to imposing short-term measures limiting the importation into New Zealand of heavily discounted frozen potato chips to avoid a food security threat. This follows the Australian Potato Industry’s move to do the same. Globally, the disruption of supply chains, and particularly sales to hospitality, by virtue of COVID-19 restrictions has led to the complete collapse of potato prices in major production centres, in particular the European Union (EU).
Australian potato farmers outraged as $1billion COVID-19 cash splash is given to European colleagues
Australian potato farmers are outraged to discover a $1billion COVID-19 assistance package given to European growers could result in a flood of French fries into the market from overseas. An industry representative body for vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, said an influx of about 2.6million tonnes of excess potatoes into Australia would lock farmers out of the fast-food industry. The two biggest potato processors, McCain Food and Simplot, have been working with AUSVEG alongside other companies to address the issue
Eye on Potatoes Podcast: In discussion with Congressman Mike Simpson and NPC CEO Kam Quarles about COVID-19
Congressman Mike Simpson and the entire Idaho Congressional delegation are championing policy solutions to support the nation’s struggling potato industry. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles calls in from D.C. to discuss the $300 million in additional potato purchases the industry needs to help bring supply and demand back into balance.
Caribou County farmer Jason Stoddard is one of many Eastern Idaho seed potato growers who have been stuck with lots of spuds that will never be planted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commercial potato farmers throughout the state have canceled seed orders, having had their contracts with processors scaled back due to lost food service demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus has disrupted the global potato market like no other single event before it, but there are some signs things settling at least a new normal, according to Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets. World Potato Markets has just published its annual review of production, prices and trade. Potato News Today readers can enjoy a special purchase rate.
Caribou County farmer Jason Stoddard is one of many Eastern Idaho seed potato growers who have been stuck with lots of spuds that will never be planted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commercial potato farmers throughout the state have canceled seed orders, having had their contracts with processors scaled back due to lost food service demand amid the pandemic. Industry officials estimate roughly 40 million pounds of Idaho seed potatoes have gone unsold or been returned to seed growers.
With prices and supply facing uncertainty due to lockdowns and high, panicked demand especially in the APAC region after the COVID-19 outbreak, it might be expected that potatoes would be able to benefit somewhat here – but in reality, there have been multiple factors hindering this opportunity, according to International Potato Center Asia Regional Director Samarendu Mohanty.
The world-wide coronavirus pandemic is impacting U.S. potato exports, as seen in the figures for March, according to Potatoes USA. In a press release issued today, the organization says U.S. exports of frozen potato products were off 12% in March 2020 compared to 2019. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were off 16%, and fresh were off 13% from the previous year.
“Improving potato varieties is our company’s core business,” says Robert Graveland, HZPC’s Research Director. “We noticed we have not yet used many genetic variants. There is still a lot of potential in this.” To use this potential, speed and control are crucial, says Robert. One way to speed up the process is to use gene-adaptation, for example, CRISPR-CAS. That can, for instance, create resistance or make a variety salt or heat tolerant. Some laws in Europe define gene-editing legally as GMO, though.
Gourmet potatoes favoured by top chefs and typically found only on the menus of high-end restaurants are to go on sale in Tesco this week to avoid them going to waste, according to news report by The Guardian in the UK. The move aims to ease a glut of fresh potatoes in the UK, with thousands of tonnes unused since the government ordered the closure of hospitality businesses on 23 March.
Potato processor McCain Foods (GB) Ltd is using ethylene and specifically the anti-sprouting system Restrain as its preferred replacement for the soon to be withdrawn CIPC, according to a press release issued by Restrain company. According to the release, McCain Foods GB, the UK business of the world’s largest producer of frozen potato products, has been using ethylene for a few years and is now recommending Restrain ethylene generators to its potato growers in the United Kingdom.
Many industries have faced changes due to COVID-19, including potato growers. With the Great Trentham Spudfest in Victoria, Australia cancelled earlier this month due to coronavirus restrictions, the region’s growers were left without one of their biggest opportunities of the year to sell their produce. But they, along with other growers around Ballarat, have all found ways to continue selling their potatoes to the public.
“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.
Since lockdown measures were imposed in Britain in March of this year, uncertainty over the forward demand profile of potato markets has grown and grown, says Senior Analyst at AHDB, Alice Bailey. AHDB has pieced together its opinion on current and future supply and demand profiles to begin a wider discussion on the forward profile of potato markets. “We will constantly review and update as new information becomes available and circumstances change,” says Alice Bailey, author of the report.
In a province that boasts one of the largest potato production regions in Canada, the surplus of potatoes waiting in storage due to COVID-19 is a major issue. Officials say that surplus is now impacting future crops. Potatoes that remain in storage past September will have to be thrown out completely. The Potato Growers of Alberta projects the loss to producers at around $26 million, with another $5 to $6 million loss to seed growers alone.
The amount of potatoes in storage for Canada’s processing sector is 4.2 per cent above the three-year average as of May 1, 2020, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada’s (UPGC) latest update. The UPGC attributes the higher numbers to the COVID-19 pandemic which has “had a dramatic effect on french fry sales as sit-down portions of quick service and fast casual restaurants were closed.” The Potato Growers of Alberta estimates about $60 to $70 million worth of processing potatoes are still in storage.
Would you even recognize the version of yourself from February, 2020? Life changes fast. In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has pushed most of us into an alternate universe of our lives that, only a couple months ago, would have been unthinkable. Case in point, Canadians might be asked to eat 200 million pounds of French fry potatoes that have already been harvested, but won’t be moving through the usual restaurant supply channels. If Canadians are asked to heroically eat our way out of this fry surplus, can we do it?
The reports of some farmers, ranchers or dairy operations dumping their farm commodities is not easy news to digest. But imagine how the farmer feels? When a producer makes the decision to destroy some of their crop, it is their absolute last resort and they do it with a heavy heart, farm industry leaders say.A lot of producers are donating their crops to food banks and other feeding programs right now but sometimes that isn’t an option due to logistical hurdles or economics, said Pat Kole, director of industry and government relations for the Idaho Potato Commission.