UK: Albert Bartlett is raising money to help vulnerable people

Eat potatoes to reduce povertyBritish potato suppliers Albert Bartlett have signed up to Sport Relief by pledging to donate 5p for every promotional bag of Rooster potatoes sold. [Sport Relief is a biennial charity event from Comic Relief, in association with BBC Sport, which brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to raise money to help vulnerable people in both the UK and the world’s poorest countries.] The company said they were creating a number of sporting initiatives and campaigns to encourage its consumers and staff to get involved with Sport Relief, which runs from 17 – 23 March. Albert Bartlett head of marketing Michael Jarvis said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sport Relief and helping its work both to improve the lives of people in the UK and internationally and in getting the nation off the couch.” More

Experts push for potatoes to be re-assessed for their ‘clear’ nutritional and health benefits

Image result for potatoes are good for youFor decades, potatoes have been branded unhealthy and we have been advised to avoid consuming too many of them. But now, researchers say that consuming the popular tuber is actually good for you. In fact, they claim that you could eat potatoes, and nothing else, for the rest of your life and ‘remain pretty healthy‘. In a medical U-turn, scientists who reviewed a host of evidence are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their ‘clear’ health benefits. They have uncovered evidence in a 60-page report that the humble crop could slash the risk of having a heart attack and may even protect against dementia. Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, and co-author of the report said: “The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits. If you have to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about. …Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes.” The full report can be downloaded as a pdf file. Or go to this page and follow the appropriate link.

US: Two potato power houses join forces

Farm Fresh Direct (Monte Vista, CO) and Cal-Ore Produce (Tulelake, CA) have announced they are joining forces to continue to increase both their organic and conventional programs. Farm Fresh will act as the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Cal-Ore and will service the U.S. with cost effective, one-stop shopping solutions, they said. Acording to Jamey Higham, president and CEO of Farm Fresh Direct. “Cal-Ore has a rich history in the potato business and have always been recognized for their quality, attention to the environment and their commitment to growing conventional and organic potatoes. More

Albert Bartlett potato producer receives £4m Scottish Government grant

Albert Bartlett receives £4m Scottish Government grantUK-based potato producer Albert Bartlett has received a £4 million grant from the Scottish Government, which the brand will use to expand its product range and manufacturing capacity. Albert Bartlett has stated that the grant will contribute towards a £17 million investment scheme, which will see the brand install new production equipment at the Firm’s Airdrie plant, facilitating the production of new product lines for the convenience and chilled potato markets. The £4 million Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation grant is the largest award issued since the scheme was introduced by the Scottish Government in 2015. Mark Murray, managing director of Albert Bartlett’s added value business said: “We are grateful for this grant from the Scottish Government, which is essential in allowing the company to diversify into the growing convenience and chilled potato market. More

Platform for online trade in potatoes now a reality

An online market for the professional purchase and sale of potatoes worldwide, named Potato Market, is now a reality. It is a project launched recently by the company Agromar, which has facilities and grow potatoes in France and Spain, and is part of the company Intersur, a leader in the production of new potatoes in Spain. “Some years ago, there was already a similar initiative, but either because it was not the time or because it did not have adequate resources, it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean that Potato Market isn’t a pioneering idea, since it is the first digital platform of its kind; the first online market for producers and professional buyers of potatoes,” explains the person in charge of this project, Ángel Muñoz, Director of Agromar and Intersur. “We know that producers want to have a tool that puts them in direct contact with the market in real time. Potato Market does not aim to be a revolutionary tool; its goal is simply to allow professionals in the sector to have a digital tool that complements traditional channels for potato trade.”  More 

NFU Potato Forum wants to improve relations in British fresh produce sector

Protecting potatoesThe potato supply chain, with its numerous stages on the journey from seed via processing to final customer, has not always been the most transparent. With relations between growers and processors occasionally strained, the sector has found it harder than most to build up trust and confidence throughout the chain. To address the problem, the NFU Potato Forum last month published a report, entitled Bridging the Gap, which looked at how relations can be improved in what is a vital area of the British fresh produce sector. The Potato Forum wrote to over 30 packers and processors to highlight concerns over collaboration and communication, following this up with face-to-face meetings. “The discussions were very constructive and we’ve been pleased with the positive way many packers and processors have engaged with the NFU on this subject,” says Potato Forum chairman Alex Godfrey. More

US company sees ‘solid interest’ in organic express-bake potato

Image result for express bake potatohFarm Fresh Direct featured its organic “Express Bake PotatOH!” at the inaugural Global Organic Produce Expo Jan. 27, which is presented by The Packer and parent company Farm Journal.. The Monte Vista, Colo.-based company actually launched the product a couple of years ago, but the market was not quite ready, said Lonnie Gillespie, director of organic sales and marketing. With its re-release in September, however, there has been solid interest. “There’s some real positive feedback on them,” Gillespie said. “Everyone wants organic and convenience, and that’s both.” The potato is pre-washed and can be cooked in its wrap in a microwave in 6-7 minutes, according to its label. Farm Fresh Direct also spoke with expo attendees about its value proposition. “Customers are able to fill trucks with organics and conventionals and specialties out of the same area, so it’s a huge cost advantage,” said vice president Dave Yeager.

UK: Potato giant weathers poor harvest

Potato giant weathers poor harvestTurnover and profits have held firm at Manor Fresh, the Lincolnshire-headquartered supplier of potatoes to retail giant Marks & Spencer, despite a “challenging” market following one of the worst harvests on record. The company, which employs more than 170 staff at its base in Spalding, has reported a slight drop in turnover to £59.2m for the year to 29 April 2017, down from £60.3m the year before. Pre-tax profits stayed at £1.6m. The results come following the fourth smallest potato crop harvest in the country on records going back to 1960, Manor Fresh said. “The company managed this challenging UK potato market environment very effectively by collaborating closely with our growers and supply partners and was able to successfully maintain industry leading product and quality standards throughout the period for the company’s valued customer base.” More

Ireland: Farmer brothers extend massive deal with Tesco to supply 65,000t of potatoes and veg

Michael Hoey with Sheila Gallagher, commercial director, Tesco Ireland and Gabriel Hoey.Country Crest, the north Dublin-based family-owned agri-business, and Tesco Ireland have confirmed a further extension of its almost 20 year relationship until 2020. Owned by Gabriel and Michael Hoey, Country Crest will continue to supply all potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes to Tesco Ireland’s 149 stores and via online shopping in a deal worth over €60m. The 2020 agreement will see Tesco Ireland source over 65,000t of fresh produce from Country Crest, including over 20,000t of potatoes sourced on a yearly basis (approximately 158m individual potatoes) including golden wonder, queens and organic. The fourth generation of the Hoey family, brothers Michael and Gabriel, established Country Crest to grow and pre-pack fresh potatoes for the retail sector and are famed for their passion for authenticity, innovation and the best quality produce. More

Canadian bred potato varieties in the spotlight at annual event

Using a combination of traditional crop breeding techniques, as well as new and emerging technologies, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) releases to the marketplace 10 – 15 new potato selections annually. These annual releases have been carefully chosen from a starting population that may number 120,000 new seedlings. On February 14, these selections will be presented to the Canadian potato industry and others with an interest in new Canadian varieties. The event will take place simultaneously at three locations across Canada when visitors will be able to follow presentations by breeders and other industry specialists via video link, and also view this year’s selections on location. Locations and times can be found on the website of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The full programme is available from Andrea Dilworth: 

Canada: State of the art food safety equipment adds value to Prince Edward Island table potatoes

The P.E.I. potato harvest is quickly wrapping up for 2017 with good quality, average yields and strong prices for growers. The industry is worth an estimated $1 billion annually to the provincial economy. (P.E.I. Potato Board)It will now be possible for a Prince Edward Island fresh potato processing operation to inspect the inside of potatoes with new technology called the Sherlock Separator-2400. On Friday, RWL Holdings Ltd received more than $400,000 provincial funding to acquire and install specialized food safety equipment. The Sherlock Separator, manufactured by Austrian based company Insort, is a chemical imaging machine that uses new technology to inspect the inside of potatoes without removing the skin. The machine makes RWL in Prince Edward Island the first location in Canada to have the ability to screen raw potatoes for foreign material with their peelings on.  Continue reading

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