Manitoba’s potato acres will take a hit this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and plummeting demand. According to multiple industry sources, McCain Foods has dropped 16 per cent of acres from its contracts with Canada’s Manitoba farmers, while Simplot has also made smaller cuts from its agreements. Why it matters: As demands shrinks, less processing potatoes will go into the ground this year, as well as sending up a cloud of uncertainty for seed potato growers.
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IRI data for the third quarter of the marketing year (January – March 2020) showed growth in both dollars and volume for total potato sales at retail, Potatoes USA says. Total dollar sales increased by 15.5% and volume increased by 15%. Every category increased in both dollar and volume sales except for deli-prepared sides. Fresh potato sales also increased in dollar and volume sales by 19.2% and 15%, respectively, with all potato types increasing in volume sales.
The following in-depth analysis of the British potato processing market was prepared by Alex Cook at AHDB Potatoes. Over the course of the lockdown so far, processors have reportedly operated a lower output with reduced labour in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Many have opted to close certain product lines to reduce workloads. A continued loss in foodservice through to the end of the season is expected.
The P.E.I. government says its $4.7 million in funding for the potato industry will result in 40 million kilograms of Island potatoes being processed, rather than potentially going into landfill. But one of the principal players in the three-way arrangement, processor Cavendish Farms, says it is still reviewing government announcements at this time. General manager of the PEI Poato Board, Greg Donald said the arrangement would benefit the entire industry — not just growers selling to Cavendish Farms, who will now have a market for these potatoes.
Martine van der Wekken of FreshPlaza spoke with Hylke Brunt, the Dutch Potato Processing Industry Association’s (VAVI) secretary, and Romain Cools, general secretary of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trading and processing sectors’ professional association, to learn more about the lay of the land in the European processing sector from their respective vantage points. Hylke Brunt says the out-of-home market has collapsed throughout Europe. Romain Cools told van der Wekken the foodservice sector has largely vanished for everyone, locally and overseas.
Dear PNT readers: During my daily (and often nightly) online searches to find sensible breaking news items to share with you here, I oftentimes come across sayings and words of such sheer eloquence and relevance to a specific topic at hand, that I believe these should be highlighted or underscored and repeated in some way or another. This article lists a handful of these quotations – and is my humble effort in doing just that. And since the COVID-19 crisis overshadows the news media at this time, all of the quotes below will be related to this reality that all of us are confronted with currently.
Canadian govt aims to help redistribute stranded potatoes; farmers say new program may not be enough
A first-of-its-kind federal program aimed at redistributing surplus food during the COVID-19 pandemic is an initial step toward moving some of the thousands of tonnes of excess potatoes currently stuck in storage on southern Alberta farms, producers say. However, farmers warn the $50-million program will only go so far, meaning large quantities of good-quality potatoes could still end up being turned out onto fields and left to rot this summer.
A response from Max Koeune, President and CEO of McCain Foods, on the Canadian government’s announcement today of the $50 million Surplus Food Purchase Program. “McCain Foods was pleased to hear today’s announcement from the Canadian government, offering the much needed Surplus Food Purchase Program to Canada’s farmers at this difficult time.
The surplus of potatoes waiting in storage in Alberta due to COVID-19 is a major issue. Officials say that surplus is now impacting future crops. Growers have about a 25 per cent cutback on their 2020 acres. There’s going to be about 100,000 tonnes in Alberta that have no home. 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 European potato world is upside down’: NEPG paints a dark picture of the current and future European situation
The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) says that the foodservice demand for potato products in Europe has dropped by 50 to 60%, and the export markets have lost its potential as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It says the global potato processing industry has reduced production capacity everywhere. More than 2 million tons of raw product will most likely not be processed in Europe. This is the first time in recent history that processors have to back down on contracts. The world is upside down, the NEPG says in its press release
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Plains Food Bank was serving one in eight people in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. But during the pandemic, the food bank’s pantries have seen a 44% increase in need. Mobile pantries have seen a 79% increase. But then a truckload of potato products came courtesy of Lamb Weston and RDO Frozen and amounted to 37,000 pounds of potato products like hashbrowns.
The second episode of PlanetPotato, the new podcast from the team that brings you World Potato Markets, has just dropped and is now available to download via Buzzsprout, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Listeners can be beguiled by tales of showbiz connections facilitated by potatoes (including Lauren Bacall), and hear how they can enter the Potato Photographer of the Year competition. Plus we pay a visit to the USA, as Red River Farm Network’s Carah Hart paints a picture of the current potato situation in North Dakota.
McDonald’s Canada today announced Fries For Good, a nationwide initiative to support COVID-19 relief efforts and other recent Canadian tragedies. From May 8-21, 2020, McDonald’s Canada will donate a portion of the proceeds from all fries sold in Canada to the Canadian Red Cross, supporting the Canadian Emergencies & COVID-19 Response Fund, the Nova Scotia Stronger Together Fund, and disaster response and preparedness work across Canada. Fries For Good is also a way for McDonald’s Canada to continue its unwavering support for Canadian farmers.
Researchers from McMaster University have found that the potato, primarily known as a starchy vegetable, can be a source of high-quality protein that helps to maintain muscle. The findings, reported in the journal Nutrients, highlight the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources. This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle.
AHDB released plans for an extended consumer marketing campaign, and a portal to help put the growers and buyers of potatoes in touch. AHDB says it is increasing consumer marketing activity for the year ahead, with a lockdown boost through social media, advertising, promotion via catch-up TV and activity within retail outlets. A trade portal will be launched this week where wholesale potato buyers and merchants can post requirements for potatoes, and growers can post available stocks.
Some of Canada’s Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) potato farmers have already begun planting this year’s crop. But even before most potatoes are in the ground, many producers are facing an uncertain future for their product, which could affect decisions they make around what to plant this spring, along with the money they’re able to make once potatoes have been harvested. An overall drop in potato acres planted this season is expected, and a drop in revenues.
Rain is urgently needed to save this season’s local potato crop, an industry figure has warned. Stuart Meredith, an agronomist with Wilson’s Country potato firm, said a particularly wet autumn, followed by one of the driest springs on record, had caused severe problems that had led to eight months of “absolute extremes for growers”. The east of Northern Ireland has been worst affected by the lack of rain.
If there is something that can be said for certain about potato lovers around the world, it is that they all passionately care not only about their favourite veggie, but most often about each other’s welfare. This simple truth can be seen when you look at the loving care bestowed on the Mr Potato Head statue at the Clements’ Marketplace in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He now (dutifully) wears a face mask – signifying the realities of the times we live in today.
Here’s why shoppers in the US are currently having difficulties finding frozen french fries: Potatoes USA CEO Blair Richardson joins Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith to discuss how the coronavirus is impacting the potato supply chain and what that means for farmers.
Keeping potato crops stress free is not an easy job for growers, particularly when one considers the key growth periods of June through to August are also potentially some of the most stressful for the crop, with temperature and drought stress being particularly prevalent. Interagro’s Bridgeway biostimulant product is said to offer the possibility of reducing stress by improving root health and by increasing the rate of photosynthesis.
The Eye on Potatoes Podcast is brought to you by the National Potato Council. This is the place to tune in for conversations with growers and thought leaders on advocacy, production and all things potatoes. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles and Eye on Potatoes host Lane Nordlund sat down during this podcast to discuss the latest on COVID-19, its impact on the potato industry, the government response, and how NPC and its state partners are supporting growers in this unprecedented time.
According to a Capital Press report, the Idaho Potato Commission is considering advertising on major online sales platforms such as Amazon, Walmart and Kroger Co. websites. “If we ran a program starting in May through August, it could cost a little over $100,000,” Commission CEO Frank Muir said. Costs would be covered by recently lower spending on travel and on certain promotion and incentive programs. He has not yet made a formal recommendation to commissioners.