Japan resumes Idaho potato imports for first time in 11 years

The Japanese government lifted on Tuesday an import ban on potatoes grown in Idaho, the largest U.S. potato producer, for the first time in 11 years after confirming a lowered risk of pest invasion, sources familiar with the matter said. Japan suspended imports of all potatoes grown in the United States in 2006 and later resumed imports of U.S. potatoes except those grown in Idaho, the origin of a pest. Most fresh potato imports are used for making potato chips and their demand has been on the rise lately. The government has apparently decided that the influence of imports on major potato producers in the country such as Hokkaido will be limited since the current amount of potato imports is considerably small compared with the domestic produce. More


Smaller crop size, good quality for Idaho potato growers

The 2017 Idaho potato harvest got under way in the earliest fields in the days immediately following the “Great American Eclipse” on Aug. 21. It might also have appropriately been called the “Great Idaho Potato Eclipse,” since the path of totality swept across about 90 percent of the state’s potato production regions, and those outside of the path of totality still witnessed a 97 percent eclipse or better. The 2017 Idaho potato harvest got under way in the earliest fields in the days immediately following the “Great American Eclipse” on Aug. 21. Potato farmers in Idaho saw below-cost pricing for their efforts during much of the 2016-17 marketing year due to a large 2016 crop and an abundance of small sizes. Planted acreage for the 2017 harvest was down, however, and early indications, as the harvest got under way the end of August, were that yields might be down a bit as well, factors that are expected to keep prices firm going into the new marketing year. More

Upcoming industry event in the Netherlands is important for Scots potato export market

Scottish potato exports are worth millions to the economy. Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesIn recent years exports of seed potatoes from Scotland have gradually increased to the point where they are now worth millions of pounds to the economy. With a view to further promoting this trade, British potato exporters will next week attend the Potato Europe event in Emmelord, Holland. With more than 250 exhibitors and 15,000 visitors from around the world, Potato Europe is seen as a key marketplace for the GB potato sector. Among the companies and organisations exhibiting this year are Greenvale AP, Caithness Potatoes, Cygnet PEP, James Hutton, Cullen Allen and SASA. Niall Arbuckle from Greenvale AP said the show was the ideal venue for striking deals with key clients in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Jordan. The AHDB Export Team’s Rob Burns said he would be pushing the benefits of GB’s high health seed potato sector. “We are looking to increase our exports in a number of areas including Russia, the Middle East and Brazil and the show offers us the chance to continue discussions with these target markets.” More

US: Strong markets should reward lowered potato supply

harvest-WPVGAEarly estimates suggest that Wisconsin’s potato crop may be down roughly 5 percent this fall. However, if prices hold strong, as they were in late August, the decreased supply is more than compensating for the lost production. Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, based in Antigo, estimated that Wisconsin’s fresh potato crop would be about 27 million hundredweight for the 2017 growing season. The 2016 fresh crop came in at 28.5 million hundredweight. Late in August Houlihan said growers were enjoying great potato prices. “The market is fantastic now,” he said. “They [prices] have gone through the roof. There is very strong demand now.” “We typically see high prices in August but these are very good prices and have strong demand,” he said. More

US potato exports hit record levels

The volume and value of all U.S. potato exports — including a 9% increase in fresh potatoes — hit record numbers in fiscal year 2017. Potatoes USA reported the gains from July 2016-June 2017 on Aug. 29. Sales hit $1.76 billion and volume reached 71.84 million cwt. at their fresh weight equivalent, according to a news release from Potatoes USA. Japan is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, followed closely by Canada. A total of 680,264 metric tons went to Japan in the past fiscal year, and 635,463 metric tons of fresh and processed potatoes were shipped to Canada. Mexico is in third place, with 527,464 metric tons of potatoes sent from the US. Fresh potatoes are still restricted to a 26-kilometer zone in Mexico. Potatoes USA sees growth opportunities for US exporters, even as the strong US dollar and competition from the European Union challenge growers. “However, prospects still look good for US exports as the dollar has weakened over the past six months and US processors are expanding capacity while ongoing efforts could increase access for US fresh potatoes to a number of markets,” according to the release. (The Packer)

South African potato sales grow by 24%

From January until July this year, a total of 12.9 million 10kg more bags of potatoes were reportedly sold on South African fresh produce markets than were sold at the same time period last year; up 24%. As a result, market prices were 37% lower during the same period. For the 2017 marketing year information for more than 44,000 hectares is already available. Indications are that hectares planted will only decrease slightly for 2017 compared to 2016. More

US: NPC CEO – ‘Improved NAFTA could deliver more potato gains’

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John Keeling, CEO of the NPC

Improvements in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could boost U.S. potato exports to Canada and Mexico in a big way. That’s the view of the National Potato Council (NPC), which submitted comments in June to the U.S. Trade Representative with suggestions how to improve the agreement while acknowledging that NAFTA has been “extremely beneficial” to the potato industry. Contacted before the recent Mexican court ruling about U.S. potato access in Mexico, John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council, said that the negotiations for a new NAFTA could help exports to Mexico. The first priority, he said, is to make sure the new agreement doesn’t lose the benefit of tariff-free access for U.S. potatoes to both Mexico and Canada. The Packer report

US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: Spanish press reports sharp hike in Mexican fresh potato prices after announcement of import ban

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Potatoes on display in a Mexican fresh produce market

The Spanish language potato news website Argenpapa reports that potato retailers are experiencing a sharp rise in the price of fresh potatoes in certain areas of Mexico, especially in Tamaulipas, a state in the northeast of Mexico, bordering the US. Some traders report a hike as much as 100%. Juan Antonio López, owner of a local fruit and vegetable market in Tamaulipas, told Argenpapa yesterday that his wholesale supplier informed him of a rise in price for his next order – this came almost immediately after the court decision of a ban on imported US potatoes became known last week. The explanation given by suppliers is that they expect US potatoes to be in short supply soon and given the fact that US potatoes are in great demand and cheaper than the locally produced product, they have no other choice but to up prices. The Alpha variety, which is very popular in Mexico, is especially effected, and retailers are unsure how much the price for Alpha potatoes will rise in the near future, but a sure rise is anticipated. Juan Antonio López told Argenpapa “from what we have seen, it is already selling at 29 pesos, while last Friday the price was at 15.50 pesos, so we expect people to buy less quantities from us”. Read the Spanish article

Scottish potato seed exporters set to increase tonnage to Brazil and Kenya

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Scottish seed potatoes

Government representatives from Scotland and Brazil met in July to simplify the import classification requirements for seed potatoes. The game-changing meeting was organised and funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). Brazil produces circa 3.6m tonnes of potatoes a year according to UN figures, however in terms of productivity yields are only two thirds of what is achieved by UK growers. Rob Burns, Head of Crops Export Market Development at AHDB said: “British seed potatoes are rightly renowned across the world. Not only for high health and high quality, but also for diversity, we have a great range of varieties which thrive in a range of conditions, be it damper cooler climates such as the UK, or warmer environments.” This agreement could set the path for a significant increase in the tonnage of British seed exported to Brazil, which is likely to help increase yields for the growers that plant them.Representatives from both countries will meet again in January to finalise discussions on removing requirement for disease testing on GB seed potatoes entering Brazil. Continue reading

Embattled West Australian potato growers eye Egypt as potential new market after TPP hardship

Kon Peos stands in front of a row of potato cratesSeed potato exports to Egypt are being flagged as a new opportunity for West Australian (WA) potato producers hit by tomato potato psyllid trade restrictions. The Potato Growers Association of Western Australia was set to receive $60,000 in State Government funding, chief executive Simon Moltoni said. The money would be used to build up trade relations between the two countries. This would be met with a $40,000 contribution from the association, Mr Moltoni said. He said the potential market in Egypt was the same size as the whole WA seed potato industry and could provide huge growth potential. “The size of this market is 10,000 tonne. It is bigger than just the effect the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) has had and it will give growers an option if they choose to participate. There are three international exporters of seed potato in WA — WA Elite Seed, Southern Packers and Lake Jasper seed potatoes. Mr Moltoni said they would all be crucial to the early stages of any trade deals. More

US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: ‘Mexican court ruling ignores science’, says NPC

In a statement released last night, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US says the recent ruling by a district court judge in Los Mochis to continue the ban on US potatoes in most of Mexico “ignores science and directly threatens the role of the Mexican plant health regulatory authority, SAGARPA”. In the statement, the NPC further says the ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, USDA and third party experts that have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico. In its statement, NPC points out that SAGARPA has completed and published a Pest Risk Assessment “that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated”. Similar analysis by a panel of third party experts facilitated by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) reached a similar conclusion, NPC says in its statement. The organization is of the opinion that the ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico. Continue reading

US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: NPC concerned, but expects SAGARPA might appeal court ruling

Image result for potato tradeA judge from the state of Sinaloa in Mexico last week deemed the approach for U.S. fresh potato imports to ‘lack scientific basis’, threatens the ‘food sovereignty’ of Mexico, and can spread crop diseases, and should thus not be allowed. The National Potato Council (NPC) CEO in the US, John Keeling said the organization was waiting on specific details of the August 4 decision, including if and how fresh potato exports to the permitted 26-kilometer zone along the border would be affected. “We just got the ruling and it’s very detailed,” he told Fresh Fruit Portal. “Our lawyers are looking at it to determine exactly what the impact is on the various court cases going on, as well as the ability to continue to ship to the border areas of Mexico.” The U.S potato industry has been trying to gain full access to the Mexico potato market for quite some time, but has been thus far been met with legal barriers. Keeling also noted it was unusual for a judge to make a decision on phytosanitary issues, and he anticipates Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) might oppose the ruling. “We would expect that this ruling would be appealed by SAGARPA, so we’ll see how it goes as it moves up through the court system and what the finding of the other judges are,” he said.  Continue reading

Breaking News: Mexican court bans US potato imports over ‘food sovereignty’ and spread of diseases

Buttery Potatoes, Meals, Father's Day, Food Gifts, Side Dishes, Potatoes,According to an Associated Press (AP) news report, published late last night on CBC Local in Sacramento, a Mexican federal court has made an unusual ruling yesterday that bans the import of US potatoes on the grounds that the imports ‘violate Mexicans’ right to food sovereignty and a healthy environment’. A group of Mexican potato growers had reportedly sought a constitutional injunction on the imports, claiming that any imports will result in the spread of agricultural diseases within Mexico’s borders. The court further said Mexican agricultural authorities had failed to use sufficient methods such as radiation treatment of imports to prevent disease spread. But because federal injunctions are intended only to protect constitutional rights, the ruling had to break some new ground. The court therefore ruled that the ban must be implemented to maintain Mexicans’ collective rights to “preserve food sovereignty and the health of Mexican crop fields.” According to the AP report, the US agriculture department had no immediate comment on the ruling.

US: National Potato Council warns of ‘serious threat to the industry’ if potatoes are imported from the UK

Image result for potato fieldLast week, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US provided comments to USDA APHIS on the recent pest risk assessment for the importation of potatoes from the United Kingdom to the US. NPC emphasized concern over six pests that would threaten the industry. The introduction of these pests into the US would “substantially harm US potato production and could cost the industry tens of millions in lost export revenue”, the NPC warns. The pests of concern are: Dickeya solani, Meloidogyne minor, Synchytrium endobioticum, Ralstonia solanaceum, Globodera pallida and Globodera rostochiensis. NPC urged APHIS to approach the discussion with the U.K. with extreme caution. This public release of the pest risk assessment is a step in the process for considering whether these products can safely be imported into the US.  The NPC says at this point, no determination has been made whether the pest and disease threats can be reasonably mitigated. (Source: NPC)