New report: Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy potato snacks

Related imageSnacking is central to the strategy of food companies, with explosive growth in the number of new such products launched between 2010 and 2017: 125% in Europe and 47% in North America. According to a new report from New Nutrition Business, Strategies in Healthy Snacking, this also means that the healthy snacking segment is now an intensely competitive and crowded. “Companies have to work even harder to create a product that brings a real point of difference for the consumer,” says Julian Mellentin, author of the report. Commenting for potatobusiness.com on what consumers are looking for when they ask for healthy potato snacks, Mellentin says: “Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy such as reduced fat and reduced salt – reduced salt is of interest only to a minority of people aged 65+. Potato snacks are primarily about indulgence and pleasure and bringing health benefits mustn’t lose sight of this fact.” The report outlines 10 strategies for success in healthy snacking, illustrated with 15 case studies of healthy snacking brands in the US and Europe. More on Potatobusiness.com

Report: ‘5.4 billion UK meal occasions features fresh potatoes eaten at home; 2.8 billion featuring frozen potato products’

Image result for british potatoesAHDB Potatoes in the UK recently published its latest annual Market Intelligence Report. In this highly informative report, it is noted that the GB market is increasingly influenced by the European potato market. Volatility in potato supply and prices, due to issues such as weather, means that imported European product plays a part in the GB market. In 2016/17, of non-EU countries, the UK imported the majority of fresh potatoes from Israel and processed potato products from Canada, South Africa and the USA. For non-EU exports, the UK continued to export the largest amount of seed potatoes to Egypt, fresh potatoes to Norway and processed potatoes to Nigeria in the 2016/17 season. According to the report, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker with YouGov to monitor attitudes toward potatoes on a six-monthly basis. The most recent findings of this survey show that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy.  Continue reading

US: Unique potato marketing effort enjoying success

Image result for Fresh Solutions NetworkThe concept of produce growers banding together for marketing purposes but keeping their own identity is relatively unique, but it is working quite well for eight potato grower-shippers spread out across the United States and Canada. Fresh Network Solutions, LLC and its Side Delights® brand of fresh potatoes are moving into its second decade of existence with a full slate of eight partners and more than a couple of dozen SKUs including many unique value-added options ranging from potato kits to fresh-cuts to organics. “We’ve hit our stride with our membership,” said Kathleen Triou, Chief Executive Officer and President of the San Francisco-based marketing organization.  “Any more partners and we would be redundant in some areas; any less and we wouldn’t have national coverage.” Triou said the group represents a significant percentage of fresh U.S. potato supply in aggregate, which gives it sufficient volume to negotiate with the largest retailers in the county on year-round programs. Triou believes that Fresh Solutions Network has its collective finger on the pulse of the North American shopper. “We see continued opportunities in the convenience sector of the category,” she said. More

Low-carb potatoes on the rise around the world

Image result for low carb potatoesLow-carb potatoes are getting attention throughout the world. In recent years, a number of varieties were introduced that are lower in carbs than conventional potatoes. Agrico introduced new potato variety Carisma a few years ago, and this contains naturally slowly digestive carbs. When developing the variety, Agrico worked with partners in Australia. Carisma is available at supermarket chains Albert Heijn and Emté in the Netherlands. Carisma is also being grown in Canada. The Scottish company Grampian Growers announced a new potato variety in 2015. Research shows the Gemson potato is similar to the Maris Peer potato regarding nutritional values, but that the Gemson has fewer carbohydrates. Potandon Produce from Idaho introduced a new potato variety in the autumn of 2017, and this potato – the CarbSmart potato – is said to contain 55 per cent fewer carbs than rice or pasta. In New Zealand, a new low-carb potato of T&G Global – Lotato – became a success within a few weeks. Years ago, HZPC developed and introduced the Sunlite concept: Potatoes with 30 per cent fewer calories than regular potatoes. The concept was introduced in the US, Spain, Italy and Cyprus. More

New potato variety said to have higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates

Image result for Mistra Biotech potatoA research group at Mistra Biotech has recently made a major breakthrough: they have developed a new potato variety with a higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates. “This is wonderful news. This potato, with its higher content of resistant starch, has many good health characteristics,” says Xue Zhao, a PhD student researching vegetable food at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala. The new potato was developed by a group of plant breeders in Mistra Biotech, headed by Mariette Andersson. This potato’s main characteristic is its relatively high content of “resistant starch” —starch that behaves like fiber; that is, instead of being absorbed by the small intestine, it enters the large intestine undigested. This confers numerous positive health effects. For example, it reduces glucose levels and insulin reactions; optimizes bacterial flora in the gut and gives a good boost to processes in the stomach; and can also facilitate weight loss. More

Alliance for Potato Research and Education aims to fight negative stereotypes about potatoes

Do potatoes belong in a healthy diet? Following a decades-long tide of negative buzz about the potato’s role in weight gain, diabetes and a host of other ills, this is the question the potato industry would like to answer once and for all with a resounding “yes!” Thanks to a recent initiative focused on potatoes and health, the industry is a big step closer to that goal, according to John Bareman, chair of the Canadian Potato Council and a board director with the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). In 2016, APRE, a joint venture between American and Canadian growers and processors, decided to focus on funding new scientific research on the connections between potatoes and nutrition. Peter Johnston, vice-president of Quality Assurance for Cavendish and secretary-treasurer for APRE, says the organization is intent on driving new questions about the links between potatoes and health. All studies funded through APRE will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals – regardless of the results, “because what that does is drive new questions,” says Johnston. More

Caught out: Bread found to have more salt than a bag of potato chips

What do you think has more salt: a slice of bread or a pack of potato chips? In some cases, the answer may indeed surprise you. Bread, it turns out, is the top contributor odietary sodium in the US and many other countries around the world. And a big new analysis from the World Action on Salt and Health, based at Queen Mary University of London, helps us understand why. For the report, a global team of researchers analyzed the salt content in 2,000 breads sold in 32 countries and regions. More than a third of the loaves exceeded the maximum salt target for bread set out by the UK: 1.13g of salt per 100g, or the equivalent of half a teaspoon of salt for about two slices of bread. The US has no official target, but voluntary draft Food and Drug Administration guidance suggests manufacturers should aim for about the same levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about nine in 10 kids and adults in the US exceed the daily limits for sodium consumption (2.3g, or one teaspoon’s worth). More

Acrylamide reduction: EU food industry prepares for legislation

Image result for potato crispsManufacturers in the European Union (EU) are preparing for new legislation that will regulate the amount of acrylamide in their products for the first time. The regulations, passed by the EU last year, will restrict the amount of acrylamide permissible in packaged foods and will force manufacturers to actively reduce the amount of acrylamide in their final products when it becomes law tomorrow. The EU has established ‘benchmark’ levels of acrylamide for various food products, ranging from 350 micrograms (μg) of acrylamide per kilogram for biscuits and cookies to 750μg per kilogram for potato crisps. Fried potato products like fries, potato chips and hash browns have been found to contain the most acrylamide while toasted bread can have up to ten times as much acrylamide as untoasted bread. More

‘What are you eating?’ Potatoes, of course!

Related imagePotatoes USA announced a new consumer marketing campaign at their Annual Meeting in Denver last week. The “What Are You Eating?” campaign is designed to encourage athletes to use potatoes as fuel for athletic performance. The campaign is designed to re-frame potato nutrition messaging from providing reasons why it is okay to eat potatoes to providing the reasons why you should eat potatoes for optimal athletic performance. Through a process of reviewing and analyzing potato characteristics and their implications, Athletic Performance was identified as the single-minded, lifestyle-oriented potato benefit that could best serve to strengthen the industry’s position in the marketplace. Talking to athletes represents a huge opportunity for the potato industry, 16% of the population or 30 million people exercise at least 2 times per week and participate in competitive events.  Continue reading

The russet still Idaho’s Goliath potato, but its colorful David challengers making headway

Colorful SouthWind fingerlings vertical IMG_0718Move over, russets. When you shop in a supermarket produce section or order from a fine-dining restaurant menu, you’ll see small, colorful potatoes and fingerlings vying for your attention. That’s making an impact on Idaho’s iconic potato-growing industry, which is noticing the little spuds’ rising prices and profit potential. Russets still dominate, with 92 percent of Idaho’s potato crop and 71 percent nationwide devoted to the familiar brown spud. Smaller potatoes, which include varieties sold fresh but also used for French fries and potato chips, account for 8 percent of Idaho acres planted and 29 percent nationally. because the small potatoes carry a premium price, their share of the overall potato market in dollars has increased to 15 percent, from 10 percent four years ago, according to Potandon Produce, a large Idaho shipper. Small potatoes became popular in Europe decades ago and have made inroads in the United States over the past 20 years. More

‘Global potato demand up, US market share for frozen products down,’ says CEO

Image result for potatoes usaWorldwide consumption of potatoes is increasing, according to Blair Richardson, chief executive officer of Potatoes USA. “We’re seeing a reversal of the downward trend in global potato-product sales that we’ve been in since the 1970s,” Richardson related during a recent meeting of Wisconsin potato growers. “Not only are we seeing positive growth at the retail level, we’re also seeing significant increases in the food-service sector,” he said. “This year, for the first time ever, food-service sales will exceed retail sales.” Only about 10 percent of Americans love to cook anymore, he reported. “We love looking at food and we love eating but we just want somebody else to do the cooking. That’s why people are switching back to potatoes and why the demand for potatoes is increasing,” he said. “If you’re depending on other people to cook part, or all, of your meals, we fit well in all the cuisines that people are interested in.” Critical challenges, however, remain for the U.S. potato industry., including losing global market share in frozen potato products. More

The new gig economy: Enter the age of Big Data-driven drones, ‘agro-preneurs’, ‘Uberized’ agriculture, and ’boutique’ food delivery systems

 In an insightful article entitled How the gig economy can transform farms in the developing world, the World Economic Forum says: “For truly modern agriculture, we need to look to the skies. Because that’s where drone technology will work its magic. Drones will have a particularly powerful impact in the developing world, whose mostly smallholder farmers face enormous challenges producing quality food and selling it for a decent price.” Drones are reshaping agriculture. Drones could make farming easier and more profitable for those who still work the land, and even attract youth back from the city. These young people will increasingly see themselves not as farmers, but as agricultural entrepreneurs, or tech-savvy “agro-preneurs”. “Uberized” agriculture would empower farmers to take orders direct from consumers and dispatch them instantaneously. Big Data-driven drone systems can seamlessly integrate agricultural production and consumption, significantly reducing waste. a “boutique” food delivery system could work via an app that delivers customer orders to farmers and tracks the drone delivery. Read the full article

Trend: More Chinese taking to potatoes

Foods made from potatoes are reportedly more popular than before in China, although the prices are slightly higher. The changes have come about as China began boosting the total potato cultivation acreage, making the potato one of the country’s top staples to better ensure food security under the pressure of dwindling farmland, water and labor assets, among other issues. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, China will have more than 6.67 million hectares of potato planting areas by 2020. “Potatoes grow well, are easily planted and stored, and boast rich nutritional content,” said Li Xuewen, an official with Dingxi’s potato industry office. As the government campaign deepens, more companies are taking a bigger slice of the market. Dingxi, a leading potato-growing base in Gansu, has 15 potato-based food processing manufacturers and 22 production lines, with annual production capacity exceeding 120,000 metric tons. The booming potato industry is also benefiting farmers. More

Dr Oz show asks: Is it time to end the war on potatoes?

Image result for oz is it time to end the war on potatoesThe popular Dr Oz show in the US features potatoes and the myth that potatoes are fattening in its latest episode. “It’s been ingrained in your brain that you can’t possibly enjoy a potato and lose weight. It turns out, they may have gotten it all wrong. Some experts on the show say that potatoes may indeed be nature’s diet pill.” Plus, Daphne Oz reveals new food finds for 2018. Go here to watch the video. Also available on this page. Also featured: “How to Eat Potatoes to Lose Weight: Learn how to enjoy them without hurting your waistline.”

In Victorian Britain, poor rural areas had the best diet and health – and potatoes were part of it…

Image result for potatoes and meatIt seems counter-intuitive but in the 19th century, the poor were better off than the rich, health and diet wise. A new study found that these rural societies enjoyed a more traditional lifestyle, eating high-quality foods and were overall better fed than their richer, urban counterparts. We often talk about eating like “the good old days” and most of the time, that’s just us using rose-coloured glasses. This study shows that at least in some instances, doing things the good old way is truly rewarding. The study’s author, Dr. Peter Greaves, of the Leicester Cancer Research Centre, examined the impact of regional diets in Victorian Britain, comparing it to available health and mortality data. The diets of the poor consisted mostly of cheap foodstuffs such as potatoes, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and fish. All in all, not only did these rural communities have lower mortality rates, but they also had fewer deaths from pulmonary diseases, indicating that they were significantly better fed. “The rural diet was often better for the poor in more isolated areas because of payment in kind, notably in potatoes, grain, meat, milk or small patches of land to grow vegetables.” More