US: Students dig in to help create new value from potatoes

Sterman Masser, Pennsylvania’s largest potato producer, knows consumers aren’t reaching for 5- and 10-pound bags of raw potatoes like they used to. Growing its business means adding more new and convenient products, so the company is eyeing a new spot in the grocery store’s produce department: the ready-to-eat, precut fruits and vegetables section. The national supplier is building upon its history of innovation to solve several problems. For example, cut potato flesh browns in 10 days — a fraction of the shelf-life of a raw, whole potato. Students in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are working on finding solutions to that problem, plus the challenge of winning consumers over to a new product. “We’re trying to take potatoes to that next level and stay relevant,” said Dave Masser, president of Sterman Masser, and also a College of Ag Sciences alumnus. More

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UK: New Potato Data Center said to be “game-changer for growers and the supply chain”

Harvesting2The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) new Potato Data Centre (PDC) gets underway later this month. The tool, which allows growers and those in the supply chain to examine data on price, variety, planted area, market sector and yield, will be available from November 22 when it debuts at the “soil-to-shelf” potato industry event, BP2017, held in London. PDC comes as prices hit a three-year low due to a four percent increase in planted area combined with reportedly above-average yields. “This is a real game-changer for growers and the supply chain,” said Rob Clayton, strategy director at AHDB Potatoes. The data on PDC comes from AHDB’s annual levy return forms, as well as price information from weekly calls to growers and purchases made by members of a recently expanded team. More

Study shows global climate warming could seriously effect Peru’s potato crop

A trio of climate scientists have shifted their forest research techniques to the rural farming regions of the Peruvian tropical Andes and the warming impact on two dietary staples of Latin America — potatoes and corn. Their findings, published last month in the journal Global Change Biology, are grim. “For these crops, which are representative of other crops grown in the tropics, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t outcome,” said Kenneth Feeley, a tropical biologist at the University of Miami and a study co-author. “If farmers ignore climate change and keep farming the same fields they always have, we find it’s going to be disastrous for these crops.” The climate impact on potato farmers was worse than that of corn. Peru’s international agricultural center also studies potato production and is actively looking for solutions to protect crops from climate change. More

UK: Early success for blight-resistant GM potato trial

Scientists inspect potato trial plotsA genetically modified potato variety designed to resist the devastating plant disease blight has successfully come through the first year of trials, say scientists. Worldwide, crop losses because of blight are estimated to be in excess of £3.5bn. However, scientists at The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) on the Norwich Research Park are trialling a Maris Piper potato that has been modified with blight resistance genes from a wild potato relative. “The first year of the Maris Piper trial has worked brilliantly,” said Jonathan Jones, a professor and project leader at TSL. “We’ve observed resistance to late blight in all the lines.” Prof Jones said early results suggested blight-resistant potatoes could be a way to control late blight and remove the need for multiple sprays of agrochemicals. More

Increased trade in HZPC certificates during stock trading day

Image result for hzpc logoThe value of the share certificate of Dutch based potato breeding and seed company HZPC was pegged at €182.20 after the bi-annual stock trading day in November 2017. Once more, this means a 10% increase in the value (the maximum allowable increase) and brings the market value to €142.8 million, according to a press released issued by the company. On this last stock trading day, 11,000 certificates were traded – more than twice as many as in previous years. With a certificate value of €182.20, the value of the HZPC certificate has risen fifteen times by the maximum of 10% since May 2010. According to CEO Gerard Backx, “The new price with the maximum increase again shows that our investors believe in HZPC and our business strategy. Notably, the trade in certificates has doubled in comparison with previous years. Consequently, there is more movement on the market and the gap between supply and demand seems to be narrowing.” More

Europe: Latest NEPG figures show higher potato harvest estimate

Although the full harvest is not in the stores yet, the North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates the actual harvest at 28.9 million tons (brut weight) for the 5 countries (Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, France and the UK). This is more than the estimate issued by NEPG last September . NEPG stresses that especially in Great Britain and The Netherlands there are still at least 10-15% of total planted area to be harvested – mostly under wet conditions. The projected harvest is 17,7% more than last year, 15,6% compared to the 5 year average and slightly more than the large harvest of 2014. All countries, except Great Britain, where final yields are not yet known, larger yields per ha are reported. In France and Belgium the yields vary enormously, some growers cannot even supply their minimum contracted volume. Apart from the higher yields, the total planted area increased in all NEPG countries with 5,9%. Germany is on the forefront with 8,8% more planted compared to last year. More

Fast food restaurants driving increased demand for frozen potatoes in Japan

After storms decimated Japanese potato production in MY 2016/17, a recent report issued by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in Japan (FAS/Tokyo) forecasts a substantial recovery of Japanese potato production in MY 2017/18 to 2.315 million metric tons, largely restoring production to pre-typhoon levels. Strong growth in Japan’s fast food and restaurant sectors, drove increased demand for frozen potato products such as french fries. Accordingly, FAS/Tokyo forecasts a six percent increase in Japan’s import and consumption of frozen potato products in MY 2017/18 (to 385,000 MT). Despite a reduced planted area in MY 2017/18, FAS/Tokyo also forecasts Japan’s fresh potato production to recover substantially to 2.315 million MT, an increase of 7.2 percent from MY 2016/17, but 2.7 percent less than MY 2015/16. Much of the recovery can be attributed to the planting of off-standard seed potatoes, which allowed farmers to stretch the available seed potatoes. Full report

India: ITC launches new Farmland brand, to sell potato based products

ITCITC Ltd has forayed into the fresh fruits and vegetables market under the ‘Farmland’ brand of products by launching value-added potatoes such as low sugar potatoes, potatoes with antioxidant, baby potatoes and French fry potatoes. The company claims these potatoes are naturally low in fat and sugar with fat content below 0.2% and sugar level below 2% respectively. ITC plans to work with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research – Central Potato Research. The company will target the potato market in metros and mini-metros which alone is close to Rs 5000 crore opportunity. The company plans to sell the products through organised retail, e-commerce and even neighbourhood vegetable vendors. ITC said it is the largest seed potato company in India. More

Research: Examining potatoes’ past could improve spuds of the future

Examining Potatoes' Past Could Improve Spuds of the FutureThe old adage of looking to the past to understand the future certainly applies to improving potatoes. Examining the ancestors of the modern, North American cultivated potato has revealed a set of common genes and important genetic pathways that have helped spuds adapt over thousands of years. Robin Buell, Michigan State University Foundation Professor of Plant Biology, shows potential genetic keys that could ensure the crop will thrive in the future. “Worldwide, potato is the third most important crop grown for direct human consumption, yet breeders have struggled to produce new varieties that outperform those released over a century ago,” Buell said. “By analyzing cultivated potato and its wild relatives using modern genomics approaches, we were able to reveal key factors that could address food security in 21st century agriculture.” More

Production of potatoes for consumption in the Netherlands up 27 percent, exceeds 4 million tonnes

Production of potatoes for consumption in the Netherlands up 27 percent, exceeds 4 million tonnesStatistics Netherlands (CBS) published its latest update of the potato harvest of 2017 in the Netherlands. Total production of potatoes for consumption for the first time since 2000 exceeded 4 million tonnes, an increase of 27 percent compared to 2016. Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) estimates the total production of potatoes for consumption – this excludes seed potatoes and potatoes grown for use in the potato starch industry – at just over 4 million tonnes (4.012 million tonnes). This is an increase of 27 percent compared to harvest 2016, when 3.16 million ton of potatoes for consumption was produced. The jump in production compared to last year looks much less dramatic when seen in a multi-year sequence, since last year represented the lowest production of potatoes for consumption in a decade. More

Northern Ireland: Prospects for potato harvest are on a knife edge

The potato industry is 'praying' for a spell of good weatherWith more than half of this year’s crop still in the ground, Northern Ireland’s potato industry is ‘praying’ for a break in the weather to save it from one of the most disastrous harvests in living memory, writes Richard Halleron. “Normally by the end of October, the entire harvest would be nearing completion,” confirmed Wilson’s Country managing director Lewis Cunningham. “Growers have been using every opportunity, and no little ingenuity, to get potatoes lifted over recent weeks. “But it has been a pretty thankless task. Ground conditions are extremely challenging. And this is particularly the case the further north to Co Antrim and east one travels into Co Down. Getting this year’s crop harvested is one issue: the quality of the potatoes coming out of the ground is another challenge for the industry. More

Stats show New Zealand potato prices nearly doubled in the last 10 years

The price of potatoes in New Zealand has almost doubled in the last 10 years, according to Statistics New Zealand. In 2006, potatoes cost $1.10 a kilo, that had risen to $2.10 in September this year. Potato prices hit a 10-year high of $2.25 a kilo in January this year. Retail price of potatoes in New Zealand. Potato prices hit a 10-year high of $2.25 a kilo in January this year. Unseasonable weather created planting and harvesting problems this month, leading to a shortage of potatoes used for crisps. Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said last week that potato farmers we’re about 20 per cent behind on planting across the country because of wet weather. More

Agripat – a new organisation for Italian potato producers

Agripat is a new organisation gathering 1,023 producers, 266 of which are direct members while 757 are members through 8 partner cooperatives. This in turn means over 10% of the potatoes grown in Italy for the fresh produce market are part of Agripat. “Emilia Romagna is the region producing the leading quantities in Italy and the purpose is to promote our produce as best as we can,” explains President Michele Filippini. Maurizio Cesari is the vice-president. The hectares cultivated by Agripat partners in 2017 were 2,555, 1,718 of which located in the Bologna province. The rest is mainly in the Ferrara and Ravenna provinces. Crops dropped from the 3,263 of 2012, but quantities actually remained constant or even increased as only non-specialised producers and small crops were lost. More

Cavendish Farms opens new potato storage facility in Canada

Cavendish Farms opened its new potato storage facility in New Annan, Prince Edward Island, Canada – which will mean the company can supply potatoes year round. The new facility is 88,000sqf and has a refrigerated potato storage capacity of 48 million pounds. Cavendish Farms is using the Dutch based Tolsma System, which will allow the company to maintain consistent quality potatoes all year for use at its two processing plants on the island. “This investment in our Prince Edward Island operation will allow us to ensure a quality supply of potatoes year round,” said Cavendish Farms President Robert K. Irving. “This will allow us to continue providing the best quality frozen potato products to our customers,” he added. “As Canada’s FoodIsland, our province is proud to offer high quality potatoes and frozen potato products that are enjoyed around the world,” said Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan. More

Swedish potato and onion sales system in German supermarkets

The Swedish system Agripo that has become the standard way of selling root vegetables in Sweden has now also been introduced in Germany. Especially the North of Germany was very interested. The system has been tested and can now be found in supermarkets such as Edeka, Real and Rewe. Agripo is a system in which separate potatoes on pallets can be sold in a simple and appealing way. This spring, Swedish Butikskonsult presented Agripo at the EuroShop in Düsseldorf with the goal to introduce the product in Germany. The reactions were positive. “The Agrpio system is the customary way of selling root vegetables in Sweden. We are of the opinion that it would be great if it would be used more and more outside of Sweden,” says Johan Särefors, Head of Export at Butikskonsult. More