Unfair trade practices by Canada blamed for rise of potato imports to the US

Related imageThe latest numbers show that potato imports to the U.S. continue to rise. That’s according to numbers from Trade Stats Northwest. The largest source of fresh imports continues to be Canada. Growers in the Red River Valley argue that continued growth may be the result of unfair trade practices put in place by the Canadian government, and they want U.S. lawmakers to begin thinking about a response. “We’re looking for fair and equitable trade. We’re pro-trade but we want it to be fair for all parties,” said Northern Plains Potato Growers Association President Donavon Johnson. One of those policies is called a “ministerial exception.” Canadian buyers cannot purchase U.S. potatoes until all Canadian fresh potato inventory is exhausted. Johnson said they asked for a similar policy to possibly be put in place in the U.S. Johnson said the NPPGA’s initial research indicates that Canada growers and shippers, with the help of their government, are increasing fresh potato production for the purpose of increasing exports. Read Spudman article

Walmart helps Idaho tackle cause of rejected potato loads

igsa18-karst-08-Mike-ThorntonUniversity of Idaho researchers are working with Walmart to look at the reasons behind rejected or downgraded potato loads at the chain’s distribution centers. Nora Olsen, professor and extension specialist at the University of Idaho, and Mike Thornton, professor of plant science at the university, explained their efforts in a Aug. 29 session at the Idaho Grower Shippers Association annual meeting. Thornton said the research began about a year and a half ago when the Idaho Potato Commission inquired how the industry could reduce quality issues on arrival. Large retailers, including Walmart, indicate that quality problems tend to happen when shippers switch from russet norkotahs to russet burbanks and when growers transition from old crop to new crop potatoes, he said. Finding solutions is important not only to reduce rejections but to also deliver better quality potatoes to consumers who may see bruising when they take potatoes home from the store, Thornton said. Read more

German breeding company Solana presents new potato varieties

Breeding company Solana GmbH, headquartered in Hamburg, will present some new and already successful potato varieties at the Weuthen Potato Day on August 30th. “In order to breed new resistant and high-yielding potato varieties for different cultivation regions and climatic zones, forward-looking breeding goals and some heavy staying power are crucial, in addition to genetic know-how,” says managing partner Leo von Kameke, explaining the success of the Solana varieties. On the Potato Day, the new varieties Baby Lou and Pocahontas will be presented, in addition to a series of successful and market-proven Solana varieties. Baby Lou is a mid-early, hard-boiling, very high-setting (about 30-50 tubers/perennial), storable and tasty table potato. It is predestined for the 45 mm triplet packaging market. Pocahontas is a mid-early, storable, solid-boiling premium potato with very high market yields and an excellent taste. Read more

US: Wada-Genesis partnership bringing year-round organic potatoes

Image result for genesis organicsWada Farms Marketing Group has strategically partnered with premier organic packer Genesis Organics located in southern Idaho. This new exclusive partnership provides new avenues for growth in the organic potato category with most notable being a longer supply availability to service all retail and foodservice industries on a year-round basis. “The demand for organic produce continues to grow in an exponential fashion. Customers are asking for more organic options when it comes to potatoes, and we are proud to be able to respond to that demand,” said Kevin Stanger, president of Wada Farms Marketing. “This new partnership will further enhance our ability to be a one-stop shop pertaining to all things organic and conventional in the potato world. We’re taking the pressure off buyers having to source from multiple locations throughout the year. At the end of the day, we can provide fresh organic options with efficient, convenient supply chain solutions.” Read The Packer report

Potato industry to sell spuds as performance-boosting

Image result for performance potatoesThe US potato industry is making a strong statement about potatoes to demonstrate the performance-boosting benefits of America’s favorite vegetable. Potatoes USA, a Denver-based national marketing group representing 2,500 growers and handlers, worked with its members to identify a nutrition-based lifestyle benefit that challenges consumers’ preconceived notions about potatoes. Extensive research led to a marketing strategy based on a key truth: Potatoes fuel performance. Potatoes provide the energy, potassium and complex carbohydrate people need to perform at their best, according to a release from Potatoes USA. Potatoes contain many important nutrients that athletes seek. “The potato undeniably works in the athlete’s favor,” says Blair Richardson, Potatoes USA President/CEO. “The message is clear: If potatoes can fuel elite athletes, they can fuel your active life, too.” Read more

Finally: New ‘Super Carb Diet’ is proof that cutting carbs isn’t necessary for weight loss

Image result for "super carb diet" potatoFor years, the diet industry has promoted the idea that carbs are ‘bad’ for our waistlines. If you want to be slim and fit, say goodbye to rice, potatoes and pasta (ignoring the fact, of course, that professional athletes often a mix of fast and slow release carbs into their diets). That is, until now. Because someone’s come up with the ‘Super Carb Diet’, which promotes the eating of ‘fibre-dense’ carbs. It’s the brainchild of former Biggest Loser trainer, Bob Harper, who has written a book entitled ‘The Super Carb Diet: Shed Pounds, Build Strength, Eat Real Food’. The principal is simple: adopt a maintainable, healthy, balanced, whole foods diet rich is complex carbohydrates like brown rice and potatoes, which will keep you fuller and more energised for longer. Prior to a heart attack, Bob was on a paleo-type diet, rich in protein and fat and very low in carbohydrate, and he says that its high-fat content left his body feeling off-balanced. Read more. And more

US: Retail volume of fresh potatoes drops in June, especially russets

Overall potato volumes sold at U.S. retailers slipped in June compared to a year ago the same month, but with an almost %5 increase in price per-pound, values increased slightly. That includes fresh and processed categories; fresh sales volumes alone dropped 5.9%. The June 2018/18 comparison by Potatoes USA showed volume of retail sales dropped 3.2%, but overall value of the category rose 1.1%. Factors leading to the decline, according to Potatoes USA, were drops in: Fresh, down 5.9%; deli sides, down 11.4%; potato chips and canned potatoes, down 1% and 3.6%; respectively. Frozen and refrigerated potato products were up 2.6% and 2%, respectively. Heavier bags of potatoes declined, with 10-pound bags seeing a 15.4% drop, and heavier bags down 12.7%. Read The Packer report

Canada: Shortage of potatoes leads Cavendish Farms to close fresh packaging facility

Related imageCavendish Farms announced today that they will be focusing on the frozen potato processing business on Prince Edward Island in Canada due to the limited availability of potatoes. The decision will result in the closure of their fresh produce packaging facility in O’Leary, Prince Edward Island at the end of the year. “Cavendish Farms has had to make this difficult business decision based on ongoing demand, and limited availability of potatoes on the Island,” said Ron Clow, General Manager, Cavendish Farms. “The supply of raw product is critical to our business. Cavendish Farms had to make up for a shortage of 150 Million lbs. of potatoes in 2017. As a result, we needed to find other sources on the Island as well as import potatoes from New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and Maine. Plans are already in place to import 65M lbs. this year. This practice is not sustainable. There simply aren’t enough potatoes on PEI for both our lines of business.”  Continue reading

Texas A&M potato breeding trials offer reds to russets, babies to bakers

Image result for Texas A&M potato breeding trials offer reds to russets, babies to bakersWhen Kelly Kuball walked the Texas A&M Potato Breeding and Variety Development Program variety display trials near Springlake recently, he was a long way from his specialty potato company in Arvin, California. Kuball said the Texas A&M potato breeding materials have the potential to provide new products for his Tasteful Selections clientele. He is looking for potatoes with unique characteristics, such as shape, color, size – “anything that might improve what we already grow and put in our bag for our customers.” Tasteful Selections concentrates mainly on baby potatoes, a rapidly growing market, he said. He has been growing and evaluating Texas A&M potatoes for seven years in California and at other Tasteful Selections growing regions on the West Coast. Dr. Isabel Vales, Texas A&M AgriLife Research potato breeder in College Station, said the breeding program’s main goal is to develop new potato varieties. She now leads the breeding program, long run by Dr. Creighton Miller. Read more

Skin deep is great: The underrated nutritional value of potato skins

Potatoes are filling, delicious, and an incredibly diverse ingredient, which has made them a staple in plant-based diets. This is mainly due to the symbiotic and highly nutritious relationship between the potato meat, or ‘flesh’, and the potato skin. Potatoes are filling and versatile and the flesh offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy carbs. Yet, potato skins are completely underrated. These rough and unattractive protective wraps offer about half of the nutritional value of the whole potato. When it comes to the nutrition facts, what the meat lacks the skin provides and vice versa, including essential nutrients such as fiber, iron, and vitamin C and B-6. Yet, the skin outranks the meat in some important categories. With that said, let’s break it down to numbers… Read more

In America, millennials eat – potatoes!

Copy editor and designer Amelia Freidline and staff writer Ashley Nickle of The Packer magazine produced a delightful short video in which they discuss the produce age gap for potatoes, which according to Fresh Trends research are purchased much more by older generations than by millennials. Amelia and Ashley talk through the perceived drawbacks to potatoes and suggest marketing angles that work around those, and as usual they sample a delectable dish prepared by Amelia. Says Amelia: “Potatoes are easy. They are good for you. You don’t want to waste them…” Go here to watch the video on The Packer website. For more on the concept of the produce age gap, check out this column by editor Greg Johnson.

US frozen potato exports up 8% in April; fresh exports down 33%

Related imageAccording to data released by Potatoes USA, exports of frozen potato products increased 8% in volume and 9% in value in April 2018 compared to April 2017. Dehy exports were up 21% in volume and 21% in value. Fresh exports were down 33% in volume and 13% in value. Frozen exports are up 1% for the July – June marketing year through April, with dehy up 5% year to date and fresh up 5% for the marketing year. The decline in fresh sales volume was driven by russets, down 10.3%. On the positive side red sales were up 2.1%, whites up 5%, medleys up 40% and purples up 7.2%. Continue reading

Specialty potato brand into third quarter of campaign

Related imageTasteful Selections™, a specialty potato brand from RPE Inc. in the US, launched the third quarter of its yearlong Fresh campaign, July 3. According to the company, the campaign provides insights and inspiration revolving around healthy, nutritious recipes and kitchen tips for more confident meal preparation. “Tasteful Selections best-quality bite-size potatoes transform everyday meals into family favorites by adding nutrition, versatility and variety,” said Tim Huffcutt, marketing director for RPE, exclusive marketer of category leader Tasteful Selections. Over the course of the yearlong campaign, more than 50 recipes, videos and blogs will be introduced in order to help experienced and novice healthy food enthusiasts keep their menus fresh, the company said.

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US: Consumer trends put spotlight on blemish diseases

It’s not a surprise that the market for colored potato varieties, (red and yellows as well as fingerlings) has been on the rise in the last several years. What may be less obvious are the effects those market trends have on managing diseases. In the Red River Valley that means being more vigilant for blemish diseases like silver scurf. “We’ve got a great red market here in the valley and people are buying these table potatoes by eyesight. You know, they’re buying them by the way they look,” said Gary Secor, plant pathologist with North Dakota State University. He said as more specialty varieties come in from Europe and South America, including fingerlings, the look of those potatoes is even more important with consumers. As consumers become pickier, Secor said, that translates to pickier buyers and the producers have to become more selective as well. Read more

Red rescue: USDA helps ease excess red potato supply

Image result for northern plains red potatoesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reportedly purchase $3 million in red potatoes for nutrition assistance programs. National Potato Council Executive Vice-President and CEO John Keeling confirms the purchase, noting that’s the equivalent of 20,000 hundredweight of red potatoes. “We worked with USDA over the past couple of weeks to get them the information about what the real surplus was and then, what would be needed to be removed. And then, what time was remaining to be able to do that because we are getting late. Potatoes have been in storage for a while now.” A few weeks ago, Associated Potato Growers said they will have 50,000 hundredweight of potatoes that need a home. This purchase could help, but there’s still an excess of fresh spuds in the Red River Valley. The red potato issue was brought to Congressman Kevin Cramer’s attention by the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA) of East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  Continue reading