Study: Consumers in Spain prefer fresh potatoes; buy potato products also via e-commerce channels

Image result for la patata frescaAccording to a news story published by the Spanish website Argenpapa, consumers in Spain bought a total of 1,32 million kilos of potatoes during March 2016 and March 2017 – 6.3 million kilos more than in the same time period for the previous year. This translates into an increase of 87 million euros. A study done by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment in Spain found that consumers prefer fresh potatoes, a segment that represents more than 70% of total potato consumption, or 22 kilos per person annually. The average consumption of all potato products (including processed) is about 30 kilos per person per year. Households with single and retired adults have the highest consumption rates, which stand at an average of 41 and 43 kilos per person per year respectively. The study further found that potatoes and potato products bought by Spanish consumers through e-commerce channels grew by 21% since 2016. Read the full story in Spanish

Ireland: Produce wholesaler signs €70m potato deal with Aldi

John O’Shea of O’Shea’s Farms and Paul Scally, Aldi Ireland’s Buying DirectorIndependent.ie reports that a Kilkenny-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler has signed a deal to provide Aldi with €70m worth of Irish-grown potatoes over three years. Under the new agreement, Iverk Produce will supply Aldi’s 129 Irish stores with 27,000 tonnes of locally-grown rooster, white and salad potatoes annually, representing a significant increase in the quantities Iverk Produce currently supplies to Aldi’s stores. Based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, Iverk Produce employs over 190 people from the local community full-time, in addition to a further 30-40 seasonal workers. 

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US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: ‘Mexican court ruling ignores science’, says NPC

In a statement released last night, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US says the recent ruling by a district court judge in Los Mochis to continue the ban on US potatoes in most of Mexico “ignores science and directly threatens the role of the Mexican plant health regulatory authority, SAGARPA”. In the statement, the NPC further says the ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, USDA and third party experts that have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico. In its statement, NPC points out that SAGARPA has completed and published a Pest Risk Assessment “that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated”. Similar analysis by a panel of third party experts facilitated by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) reached a similar conclusion, NPC says in its statement. The organization is of the opinion that the ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico. Continue reading

Nielsen research confirms that microwaveable category is strong and leading US brand is outpacing competition

A recent study on the microwaveable/steamable fresh potato segment conducted by Nielsen FreshFacts® highlights the continuing positive performance of this segment led by Side Delights® Steamables™ – which accounts for more than half of all dollar sales in the category. Potatoes still lead as the #1 ranked vegetable based on volume sales, and the microwavable/steamable potato segment growth trend continues – up 12.6% in volume sales and up 28.4% in dollar sales versus last year. Side Delights® Steamables dominate with 62% of the dollar share and 63% of the volume share in the segment despite a comparatively smaller product grouping than the competition (6 items for Side Delights® Steamables versus 25 items for the competition). Additionally, Side Delights® Steamables’ dollar velocity outpaced the competition, selling faster than any of the other brands. The top two selling Side Delights® Steamables items (in dollar and volume) are the Red and Golden potatoes, which increased their distribution 18.2% and 15.8% respectively vs YAGO. Side Delights® Steamables are available exclusively through the Fresh Solutions Network. Continue reading

‘The Little Potato Company that could…’ – Canadian specialty company opens first U.S. potato-processing facility

Image result for angela santiago little potato companyMany parents might recall reading a book to their children called “The Little Engine that Could,” sometimes over and over again. It’s a story of a small train that tries its best to bring toys to children on the other side of a hill. The story of The Little Potato Company is somewhat like that… Angela Santiago, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, and her father and co-founder, Jacob (Jake) van der Schaaf, were told more than once that no one would want the small potatoes they were hoping to market, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dream. The Little Potato Co. celebrated the grand opening of its new U.S. processing facility in Wisconsin on July 27. The $20 million facility is building up steam to supply pint-sized potatoes to consumers across much of the country. The company specializes in creamer (baby/salad) potatoes – potatoes that mature at a smaller size than potatoes that are usually found in a grocery bag. Demand for the potatoes has grown exponentially since van der Schaaf came up with the idea a little more than 20 years ago and convinced his daughter to join him in the effort. Van der Schaaf, a Dutch immigrant, longed for the small creamer potatoes he had eaten as a youngster, so in 1996, he suggested to his daughter that they test out the market for little potatoes. More

The ban on importation of US potatoes into Mexico as explained in article published in the Spanish ag press

The decision by a judge in Mexico a few days ago to prohibit the importation of potatoes from the US received intense attention in ag circles in both countries, and beyond. A news story about this issue was published on the Spanish ag news website ARGENPAPA (based in Argentina). The article is entitled “México: ¿Por qué Sagarpa prohibió la importación de papa?” – it was published online by ARGENPAPA yesterday, August 5. I publish a machine-translated (Google) version of this article below for the convenience of non-Spanish speaking readers of Potato News Today who might have an interest to read it. (Footnote: Sagarpa is the name for the Mexican department of agriculture).  Continue reading

Canadian officials approve Simplot’s second generation GMO potatoes

Genetically Engineered Potatoes CanadaAssociated Press reports that three types of potatoes genetically engineered by J.R. Simplot to resist late blight are deemed safe for the environment and safe to eat, according to Canadian officials – who confirmed the approval of these potatoes on Thursday. The official approval by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency means the Simplot potatoes can be imported, planted and sold in Canada. The company said it received approval letters from Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the last several days. Health Canada spokeswoman Renelle Briand confirmed the approvals to The Associated Press on Thursday. “We have no objection to the sale of food derived from J.R. Simplot Company’s” potatoes for human consumption, Karen McIntyre, director general of Health Canada, said in a letter sent on July 28 to the company. Canadian officials in two other letters sent on Monday approved the environmental release of planting the potatoes and using the potatoes for livestock feed. The three varieties of potato — the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic — were approved by U.S. regulatory agencies in February. The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes and that the resistance to late blight comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense.

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Aldi makes Welsh potato commitment

Aldi makes Welsh potato commitmentAldi has committed to selling Welsh potatoes across all its stores in Wales following investment in its new distribution centre in Cardiff. The discounter, which sponsors Britain’s Team GB, said its £60 million depot has already helped it supply Welsh lamb to local store, and it can now expand this commitment into potatoes. Aldi co-managing director of corporate buying, Tony Baines, said: “The move to stock Welsh potatoes in Welsh stores is a natural one following the investment in our Cardiff distribution centre. “Supporting Welsh excellence in farming, first with Lamb and now with potatoes, benefits local suppliers and local business as well as local customers who can enjoy fresh produce at unbeatable prices.”  Continue reading

The power of creativity: A special beer, vodka and chips from the same potato source…

“Yes, it got slightly out of hand,” laughs Victor van Veelen. Seven years ago the brothers Joost and Sebastiaan Hoes opened a trial store under the name FrietHoes in the Netherlands. It was the start of their own FrietFabriek (ChipFactory) in which Victor van Veelen also participated. Their new production line has a capacity of over 2 million kg of fresh chips on an annual basis and a semi-automatic factory for the production of precooked chips. FrietHoes is one of the largest buyers of organic chip potatoes in the Netherlands. FrietHoes has set itself the goal of making the production line completely zero waste next year. In order to add value to the cutting waste, they got creative: “We decided to make vodka from them. Our peel beer soon followed: a special craft beer that is great on a square. As an entrepreneur it’s an added advantage to be able to serve fresh chips and tell your customer that the drink comes from the very same potato and chip producer. Customers like this and it creates an experience,” Victor concludes. More

Potatoes seen as healthy product in Sweden

Although some regions were affected more than others, Lars Elofson from Svensk Potatis in Sweden says that overall there was not too much damage to the potato crop from the cold weather during April/May. The potatoes are in good condition and with the current weather conditions, growers don’t expect any issues this season. “Organic production continues to increase in Sweden, and I suspect it will increase by around 3-5% this season,” said Lars. Over the last 10 years, potato consumption in Sweden has been stable, if not slightly increasing, compared to a majority of countries during the same time period, who saw potato sales drop. “We have been actively working on educating consumers about the nutritional value of potatoes and most people in Sweden view them as a healthy food. This came with lots of help, from food fairs, chefs, commercial advertising, paid articles, along with social media like Facebook and Instagram,” Lars continued. More

Irish retailer SuperValu expects to sell EUR32m potatoes this season

Leading Irish grocery retailer SuperValu expects to sell EUR32m in homegrown Irish potatoes this season, according to an announcement made on July 20. Wexford brothers John and Chris Fortune (pictured), second-generation farmers based in Kilmore, Co. Wexford, grow the new season potatoes. As long-standing suppliers to SuperValu for the last 15 years, the Fortune brothers have been growing Irish potatoes on their family farm for over 30 years. John and Chris also supply SuperValu with baby salad potatoes and are one of the few Irish famers who specialize in growing and harvesting baby potato crops. Martin Kelleher, managing director at SuperValu, said: “As the number one supporter of the Irish agro-food industry, SuperValu is committed to delivering high quality locally-sourced Irish produce to consumers. SuperValu works with more Irish suppliers than any other retailer in the country…” More

The US wants to export its potatoes to Mexico

US potato producers began lobbying for Mexico to effectively open its doors to US exports in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “United States Potato farmers are supporting the renegotiation of NAFTA to address this matter and related sanitary and phytosanitary issues,” according to a report by the US Congress. The United States is the world’s seventh largest exporter of potatoes in the world, with sales of $ 204 million dollars in 2016, 37 million of which corresponded to the Mexican market. Mexico continues prohibiting imports of U.S. fresh potatoes beyond a 26-kilometer area along its border with the United States, despite a number of attempts to address this issue. More

Organic Produce Summit: Launch of organic single wrapped microwaveable potato

Fresh Solutions Network announces that it will be launching its new Side Delights® Farmer’s Table® Organic Russet single wrapped, microwaveable potato – a line extension to the Farmer’s Table Organic potato line up.  The launch will take place at the Organic Produce Summit trade show, July 12-13, 2017 in Monterey, Calif. The sold-out exposition features 120 top producers of organic fresh fruits and vegetables, and more than 75 key retail/buying organizations will be attending. “The organic foods category continues to grow, and potatoes are a sweet spot,” said Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. “Our microwaveable organic single potato will appeal to both organic shoppers and Millennials, who have become an increasingly important consumer base.”  Continue reading

US: Potandon is ‘one-stop shop for foodservice potatoes and onions’

Image result for potandonPotandon Produce LLC, which is headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, has “the largest dedicated supply base in the industry” for potatoes and onions, “with shipping locations in all key growing areas,” according to Dick Thomas, vice president of sales and marketing. “Therefore, we can provide all of our customers with a year-round one-stop shop for all major varieties of potatoes and onions,” he told The Produce News in a June 20 interview. The company’s customer base includes retail, wholesale, and foodservice accounts, “and you need strength in all of those areas to move your crop and get the best return for your grower base,” said Stephanie Bench, director of foodservice. Potandon will be showcasing its full product line at the PMA Foodservice expo in Monterey, CA, July 30, she said. Potandon supplies its customers “52 weeks out of the year” with “availability mainly out of Idaho, so we can consolidate all of those items on a truck for you,” she added. The company has a quality assurance team “that goes to all of our facilities” in all producing areas to make sure the quality measures ups to Potandon standards, she said. More