European potato market overview: Demand nearly nonexistent in France

The potato organization FIWAP (Filière Wallonne de la Pomme de terre) in Belgium has published it’s latest weekly report. According to the report, there is virtually no demand for processing potatoes in France, although some buyers are expected to return to the market in the coming weeks / months as contract volumes are completed. The fresh market is also moving slow, with very low prices in stores. Export is struggling to restart, especially due to a lack of trucks. In the Netherlands, exporters are counting on export to rebound to Africa (West African destinations) which is long overdue. Limited volumes are regularly made to the Caribbean and the Middle East. Trade to Southern and Eastern Europe is still too weak to boost markets. In the UK, some analysts say the current market complications could lead to a significant decrease in planted area in 2018. More

Exhibitors line up for Washington-Oregon potato conference

Dale Lathim, executive director of the Potato Growers of Washington, is chairman of the Washington Oregon Potato Conference trade show. He says exhibitors are lining up to take part in the show.The Washington-Oregon Potato Conference trade show continues to grow each year, organizers say. When the conference expanded into the Toyota Center next door, organizers were able to accommodate a waiting list of exhibitors that had grown to 50, said Dale Lathim, chairman of the conference trade show. But now the list is growing again, he said. The conference is Jan. 23-25 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, Wash. The conference even got rid of some larger spaces for big equipment to fit more booths. “We’re accommodating more vendors who are clamoring to be in the show, and we’re trying to include as many of them as possible,” Lathim said. The conference has 177 exhibitors this year. Lathim said the conference hopes to draw 2,000 people, about the same number as last year. Attendees come from the Northwest, elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada, and from nations such as Brazil and China. More

Drones and the Digital Future of Agriculture

Image result for drone agricultureA growing global population, less available arable land, aging workforces, and climate change, mean that the pressures on producers in agriculture are becoming more complex. Meeting these challenges requires new innovations to optimize production, costs, quality and quantity, while balancing the need for environmental sustainability. An innovation conversation has begun, revolving around the benefits of digitizing the production. This conversation reflects the promise of a smart and data-driven industry. In his article “Six Ways Drones Are Revolutionizing Agriculture”, Michal Mazur lists several ways Drones are positively impacting agriculture… More

US: Spudnik celebrates 60 years

Sixty years after launching, Spudnik is doing well in the potato race. The company, which traces its origins back to two brothers who invented a potato “scooper” to do the backbreaking, potato-piling labor farmworkers had to do by hand before, employs about 300 people today and makes more than 70 equipment models. “We are equipment manufacturers. We try to be seen as partners, though,” said marketing specialist Jan Muhle. “The farmers are so smart. They know what they need.” Spudnik celebrates its 60th anniversary Tuesday with an all-day open house. The name “Spudnik” is a play on the Soviet satellite “Sputnik,” which was launched around the time brothers Carl and Leo Hobbs were designing their first potato scooper. There’s an extra level of wordplay too, Muhle said — someone told them their scooper would “nick” the spuds. More

Not much movement on Belgian potato market, says owner of potato pool

Last year, potato wholesaler RTL Patat from Menen, Belgium, started the first Belgian potato pool. In the Netherlands, this has existed for a while. Owner Rik Tanghe talks about how things are now. “Multiple growers have signed up with us now. Our goal is to have higher average daily prices. That’s very tricky this year, due to the low daily prices and difficult market circumstances. I still have high hopes for a price change at the end of the season, in particular due to the good quality of the potatoes.” Rik: “There’s little to no day trading. Hardly anything is happening, and most growers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.” (Source: FreshPlaza)

Peru does not have a potato processing plant, despite increasing demand

Related imageLast Tuesday, farmers and producers of white potatoes raised their voices and went on strike because of the fall in tuber prices. According to farmers, prices started to fall because of the import of pre-fried potatoes from countries like the Netherlands and the US. The pre-fried potatoes are white potatoes that are ready to be fried and be used in meals. This potato is much cheaper than the national product, and therefore producers can’t compete with it, they said. The number of chicken restaurants in the country has grown notably, as well as their preference for pre-fried potatoes. According to Gregory Scott, a researcher at Centrum Catolica and a specialist in the sector, “the concentration of demand in terms of its daily use to supply restaurants has already been established, and this demand could support the creation of a precooked potato processing plant in Peru.” More 

Pringles releases sukiyaki flavoured potato chips in Japan

In Japan, big international brands know how to keep their customers interested throughout the year, with exclusive limited-edition flavours and irresistible seasonal releases. Last year, Pringles decided to pay homage to Japan’s beloved fried octopus balls, with a takoyaki flavour limited for sale in the Kansai region, where the delicacy originated, and now the stackable snack chip giant is continuing with their regional releases, with a new flavour available only in the Kanto area. The Kanto-exclusive Pringles flavour is sukiyaki, a traditional Japanese hot-pot-style dish, containing slowly simmered vegetables and thinly sliced beef, which are typically dipped in a small bowl of raw egg after cooking and just before being eaten. Pringles is taking advantage of peak sukiyaki season (the winter months) by releasing their new flavour on 30 January. More

Brexit: Jersey Royal potatoes ‘could be left rotting in fields’ due to lack of EU workers

The largest producer of Jersey Royal potatoes has warned crops may be left to rot in the fields because foreign workers have left ahead of Brexit. Polish workers – who had previously provided the majority of seasonal labour – have abandoned Jersey following the EU referendum, according to Charlie Gallichan of Woodside Farms, which grows and exports Jersey Royals, vegetables and flowers. Growers are “trying to keep their heads above water until they get reinforcements” from Africa and elsewhere, he said, warning that the current shortage of staff could result in crops being left in the fields. “There are lots of reasons why the Poles don’t want to come here any more. They now prefer to go to Germany, where the wages are higher and they can go home for the weekend. But the major reason is the low exchange rate since Brexit…” More

2018 Potato Expo Panelists: ‘Potato expectations critical in buy-sell relationship’

Communicating quality expectations clearly is the best way to avoid conflicts in buyer-seller relationships, according to panelists at the 2018 Potato Expo. In a fresh market track workshop called “Identifying the Source of Quality Issues in the Fresh Potato Supply Chain,”  retailers and shippers on Jan. 11 talked about how they sort out quality expectations. The session was moderated by Mac Johnson, president and CEO of Category Partners. Johnson said the common perception is that consumers are increasingly quality conscious. He asked the panel if that perception translated to retailers and growers. While price is important to customers, Jeff Heins, regional quality control manager for Walmart in Florida, said consumers also expect high quality. Steve Elfering, vice president of operations at Potandon Produce said Potandon keeps profiles on each customer and can systematically adjust packing based on their needs. Tony Trujillo, quality control manager for Farm Fresh Direct, said Farm Fresh understands the personality and needs of each receiver they ship and can adjust if needed. More

India: Cold weather causing potato crop failures

Extreme cold weather in northeast India has claimed its first casualty: the potato. Farmers on the fringes of the state capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi, say low temperatures have ruined more than half of their crops and a supply crisis was imminent in city markets, which by default will jack up prices of the otherwise humble vegetable. Deepak Mahto, an elderly farmer, said they often brought stocks from Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to bridge the demand-supply gap and ensure price stability, but the yield in the neighbouring states had suffered as much as in Jharkhand. Kishwar Sahu, who owns land in Chandaghasi, said the plummeting Celsius had reduced his potato production to one-eighth of last year’s crop. A potato vendor in the city currently the price of a kilo ranged between Rs 8 and Rs 14. “Now, that is because old stocks are still available. Once that is exhausted, the price will rise because as far as I know crops in Bengal and UP have suffered too,” he summed it up. More

US: Nematology expert discusses management practices for corky ringspot in potatoes

In a video aimed at helping potato growers, the Plant Management Network has released a presentation by Michigan State University professor of nematology George W. Bird on management practices for corky ringspot. The disease is caused by the tobacco rattle virus and vectored by stubby-root nematodes. The primary symptoms are characteristic concentric rings on tuber skin and internal tissues. Bird’s presentation is designed to assist growers in understanding and managing corky ring spot. It contains information about symptoms of the disease and how to sample for the stubby root nematode. It also covers the management strategies of containment, exclusion and nematode population control. Special attention is given to chemical and biological control options and the topic of soil health. Watch video

The importance of potassium management in potato production

Potatoes use more potassium than any other nutrient, including nitrogen. Potassium is required for nutrient movement in the potato plant. It is essential for the makeup of over 40 different enzymes and is involved in more than 60 different enzyme systems in plants. Potassium is crucial in quality potato formation. Plants lacking in potassium often display various signs of deficiencies, the most common being discoloration of older leaves on the plant as compared to younger leaves on the plant. Depending on soil type, 90 to 98 percent of total soil potassium is unavailable. Typically only 1 to 2 percent of conventional potassium fertilizer applied to the soil is available at one time. As an essential major nutrient for crop production, potassium needs to be available to the plant at all stages of growth. Growers can provide the potassium their potato crop needs, when it needs it, by using efficient potassium nutrient products. More