Canada: Good potato yields despite challenging year for Manitoba growers

Many Manitoba potato growers faced nail-biting times this autumn as they struggled to get the crop off. In the end, however, yields are expected to be similar to last year. Dave Sawatzky, manager of Keystone Potato Producers Association, said he predicts yields will roughly be on par or slightly better than 2016’s harvest, when Manitoba potato growers brought in 348 hundredweight per acre on average. “Overall, it looks like a pretty good crop. A very challenging crop, this year, to grow — very dry summers, so irrigation was run hard,” he said. In recent years, potato yields have generally been increasing, a trend Sawatzky attributes to several factors. More

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Report: Potato processing market expected to reach $32.45 billion by 2023

According to the authors of the Global Potato Processing Market Report, this market is expected to grow from $19.74 billion in 2016 to reach $32.45 billion by 2023 with a CAGR of 7.3%. Rapid urbanization, progress in the standard of living, easy availability, consumer preferences for convenience foods and favorable packaging are the major factors propelling the market growth. In addition factors such as soaring demand for applications such as snack foods and prepared ready meals, increase in the number of retail channels such as hypermarkets and supermarkets and rapid growth of the fast food industry are driving the market growth. More

UK: GM potato trial showing positive signs of blight resistance at Sainsbury Laboratory

The Sainsbury Laboratory is trialling a genetically-modified potato designed to be resistant to blight. Pictured are Prof Jonathan Jones (front) with his team, Dr Marina Pais (centre) and Dr Kamil Witek (back). Picture: The Sainsbury Laboratory.A genetically-modified (GM) potato designed to resist late blight has worked “brilliantly” during the first year of field trials, according to Norwich scientists. The field trial conducted by The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) on the Norwich Research Park involves incorporating three blight-resistant genes from a wild potato relative into the popular commercial variety Maris Piper. After the first year of the field trial, scientists observed a marked improvement in late blight resistance, with a stark difference in health between the resistant and non-resistant plants. Prof Jonathan Jones, who is leading the project, said the initial results offered hope that there could be a way of controlling late blight without the need for chemical fungicide sprays. More

Innovative potato products presented at Anuga 2017

Potato producers exhibited a range of innovative products at Anuga 2017, this year’s largest food and beverage trade show, organized by Koelnmesse in October. As with every edition, the organizers set up a special innovation area, called “Anuga taste Innovation Show”, where products from different categories were showcased, including several potato items. The company Pafritas introduced the handmade selected and fried potatoes in olive oil. The company San Carlo presented Italian-style crisps Più Gusto – a range that brings creativity into the world of crisps. Danish company Orkla showcased crunchy, slow roasted crisps in four aromas. More

US fresh produce company unveils its first low-carb potato

Potandon Produce has released a new CarbSmart potato, developed with lower carbohydrate levels. Officials say the product is an example of new choices in the fresh category helping to strengthen fresh-potato sales. Potandon Produce has released a new potato variety making a counter-intuitive marketing claim for a starchy vegetable. Officials say the product is an example of new choices in the fresh category helping to strengthen fresh potato sales. The Idaho Falls-based company unveiled its first low-carbohydrate potato Oct. 19 during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in New Orleans. Potandon boasts its CarbSmart potato has 55 percent fewer carbohydrates than rice or pasta. Ralph Schwartz, the company’s vice president of sales, marketing and innovation, believes the product will continue a recent trend of convenient, colorful and innovative specialty products strengthening sales in the long-stagnant fresh potato category. “We’ve been working on it for several years,” Schwartz said, explaining this is the pilot for what could become a broader line of potatoes bred for specific health attributes. More

Lasering text on fresh produce becoming more popular in Belgium

During the Empack 2017 in Mechelen, Belgium, the company Presa presented various packing and coding machines that can be applied in the fresh produce sector. One machine gaining popularity that’s used by a company in Overijse is the Solaris laser machine for potatoes, fruit and vegetables. Using a CO2 laser, the machine brands fresh products with a text or logo of your choice. During the fair, Sofie Vandereycken presents the starter model eMark Eco of the laser-marking system at Presa’s stand. According to her, the technique is gradually emerging in Belgium. “In the Netherlands, but internationally as well, it’s already a bit bigger,” Sofie says. “Using a CO2 laser technique, the machines can brand the peel of fruit or vegetables with a logo or text. It’s not just possible for thicker peels, such as melon or avocado.” More

US: Potato marketers weigh in on consumer trends

Idaho potato growers see two major trends with their products: consumers are increasingly looking for smaller pack sizes and for potatoes other than russets. Ralph Schwartz, vice president of marketing, sales and innovation at Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Potandon Produce LLC, mentioned the rise of 5-pound bags at retail, displacing 10-pounders in popularity. “I actually think there will be a resurgence in the popularity of big bags,” he said. “I still see a strong demand for big bags during Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Stephen Abend, chief operations officer for Nonpareil Farms, Blackfoot, Idaho, agreed that consumers prefer smaller pack sizes for russets — 3-pound, 4-pound and 5-pound bags. The increased interest in smaller pack sizes has spurred the industry to come up with new ideas and technology, said Kevin Stanger, president of Wada Farms Marketing Group, Idaho Falls, Idaho. More

Pre-cut Agria chips gaining popularity in Belgium

In Wuustwezel, Flanders, the chip processing company De Coster works with potatoes. A large part of their assortment is focused on the chips industry. Both whole potatoes and pre-cut fresh chips are processed by the Belgian company. For the chips, the potato processing company practically always uses the same potatoes. “We mostly use Bintje or Agria,” says Sofie de Coster from the company of the same name. “We’ve noticed Agria chips potatoes have become more popular in recent years. This is due to the more constant frying quality of this potato compared to that of Bintje. This variety turns brown much quicker, although nothing compared to Bintje’s flavour. Agria is a bit drier and easier to fry because of that.” Besides, there’s another reason Agria is gaining popularity, according to Sofie. “In the Netherlands, chef Sergio Herman opened a number of chips shops in which only Agria is used,” she says. More

Kiremko focuses on sustainability

Potato equipment processor Kiremko has introduced a new concept challenging itself to improve potato processing and to work on a sustainable future. Paul Oosterlaken, director of Kiremko, explains that more and more customers asked to develop and produce lines that take the environment into account. “With the construction of our new building we have further implemented the sustainable way of working and gave this concept a name: “Kiremko Fair Future”, he says. With the construction of the new building, the company is assuming to deal consciously with the environment: 1,268 solar panels have been installed, the heat of machines is reused, office lights are dimmed when light is not needed and air is heated with recovered residual heat. Reduction of the use of water and energy, emission reduction and water recovery contribute to reduced production costs of the customers. (Source: Potato Business)

US retail records growth for potatoes in August

USA total potato retail performance recorded growth in August 2017, according to Total Store Monthly Potato Report August 2017, by Potatoes USA. The dollars growth in the category Fresh Potatoes was mainly driven by “other” (+41.3%), “yellow” (+11.0%) and “red” (+4.1%) potatoes. The yellow potatoes drove the majority of the volume growth, comparing to the same period a year ago. Frozen potatoes growth was majorly driven by Tarter Tots, in both dollars and volume sales. The increased sales in Deli Potatoes is mainly from Potato Salad which holds the highest share. More

Idaho potato growers weigh options for boosting fry profits

For the past several years, grower margins have consistently declined in Idaho to the point they are no longer sufficient to maintain a stable business environment for growers’ long-term financial future. For the four-year period including crop years 2014 through 2017, pricing has plummeted 7 percent (down 70 cents a cwt.) Processors use the bargaining group to set an advertised price and then present growers with different options to leverage an even cheaper raw product price. Some growers have been offered multiple-year contracts at a discounted price. Others, a joint venture where profits are split between the producer and the buyer. The question needs to be asked whether these multi-year contracts make sense for the grower and the industry as a whole given the current demand for frozen potato products from a domestic and global perspective. Where do these multi-year purchasing programs leave the potato industry in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest? More

Idaho potato crop returns to average volumes

Idaho has bounced back to a more normal potato crop this season from its bumper crop last year. Last season, Idaho had more potatoes available for the fresh market than any other year in its history, said Ryan Wahlen, sales manager for Pleasant Valley Potato Inc., Aberdeen, Idaho. The United Potato Growers of Idaho reported that planted acreage statewide is down nearly 15,000 acres, from 322,629 in 2016 to 307,776 in 2017. Total fresh potato production in Idaho last season was 38.2 million cwt., according to the group. This season, it’s estimating production between 31 million and 32.5 million cwt. — a potential decrease of nearly 19%. “We expect that, as harvest finishes, shippers will realize how much lower yields were this season compared to last season and will adjust their pricing to reflect their reduced inventory,” Wahlen said. “The 15,000-acre decrease in potato acreage coupled with the lower yields we’ve experienced should translate to better grower returns this year.” More

Robinson Fresh and Albert Bartlett bring British potatoes to North America

Robinson Fresh and Albert Bartlett bring premium potatoes to North America. (Photo: Albert Bartlett)Robinson Fresh®, a division of C.H. Robinson, is now the exclusive provider of Albert Bartlett potatoes in North America. Albert Bartlett is a leader in the fresh and frozen potato market for the United Kingdom, and is increasing its presence in North America with headquarters in Denver and growers throughout the continent. “When we heard Albert Bartlett was looking for opportunities to further expand into the North American market, we knew we wanted to get involved,” said Michael Castagnetto, vice president of global sourcing at Robinson Fresh. “Albert Bartlett plays in a unique space in the food industry that we see as the forefront of consumer trends — the company prioritizes flavor to drive the category and provides a premium option to offer a meaningful culinary experience. As Michelin-star chefs and home cooks alike are utilizing this product, we believe this is the future direction of the produce industry.” More

US: RPE to feature new product innovations at Fresh Summit

What’s new in the fresh potato category? From RPE, Inc. a new potato item, a unique approach for commodity product and fresh innovations that add value for both consumers and retailers alike. New featured item: SteamPak Mini™, for the health conscious and on-the-go consumer, is a single-serve package of fresh potatoes. Microwaving in four minutes for a great snack or side dish, SteamPak Mini has no additives and addresses a trend toward smaller pack sizes and a desire from consumers to reduce food waste. Unique approach for commodity product: Old Oak Farms® Party Potatoes, offered exclusively by RPE, are fingerling potatoes re-imagined with precise size specifications. RPE will also highlight Tasteful Selections Steam & Savor™ steamable bags featuring Organic Mini Sweet Potatoes, and White Russet® brand potatoes. More

Low carb potato variety wins New Zealand Food Award

Image result for LotatoesT&G’s Lotatoes has won The Ministry for Primary Industries Primary Sector Products Award at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards. The category promotes, recognizes and showcases innovations in primary sector products, processing and packaging methods. Lotatoes came out on top with the judges being particularly impressed with the process used to naturally breed and sustainably grow the lower carbohydrate and fewer calorie potato that’s taken New Zealand by storm. “Lotatoes is a high-quality and delicious potato, sustainably grown right here in New Zealand by passionate farmers loved by kiwi consumers. We’re extremely proud of Lotatoes win at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards,” says Andrew Keaney, executive general manager, T&G who accepted the top award. This potato, with 40% less carbs and fewer calories than other potato varieties, was developed by cross-breeding different varieties of potato seeds together. More