US: Alsum Farms and Produce launches ‘Powered by Potatoes’ contest

US: Walmart stores to test skinny potatoes

A small product is about to get a potentially giant boost. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.—the largest retailer in the U.S.—is expected to begin testing the Skinny Potato this month, says Scott McDulin, vice president of Schmieding Produce Co. in Springdale, Ark. “I talked to [Walmart’s] category manager two weeks ago, and he loved the idea,” says McDulin, who added that the test will be in Walmart stores served by the retailer’s Dallas distribution center. The idea behind the Skinny Potato is a response to the fact that some consumers have shied away from russet potatoes while trying to cut carbs. McDulin says most russets packed in 5-pound bags are 5 to 9 ounces each. The 100-calorie Skinny Potato offers smaller portions, with 4- to 6-ounce potatoes. More

US: Frozen and fresh potato exports up; dehy down

Total U.S. Frozen potato exports recovered in March, up 17% over March 2016 and bringing the total for the first three quarters of the marketing year to 754,953 metric tons, up 3% over the same period last fiscal year.  The March recovery was led by the Philippines up 57%, Mexico 38%, Taiwan 36%, Indonesia 31%, Japan 28% and Korea 25%.  The only real drag on exports to Potatoes USA target markets was China down 31% for the month and now off 30% for the marketing year. Total Fresh potato exports were up 18% for March and at 318,977 metric tons are now up 10% for the marketing year.  Continue reading

Egyptian potatoes imported by Syria to tackle high prices

In order to ensure that the needs of the domestic market are met and to put an end to the dramatic increase of prices caused by the Syrian crisis, a batch of 5 thousand tonnes of Egyptian potatoes has been shipped and will be distributed in a number of provinces. A source from the Ministry of Commerce has reported that the cause of the high potato prices in the Syrian market is the lower domestic production, as well as the rising demand for potatoes. The source has also pointed out that the importation of potatoes will stop in late March, which is when a new domestic campaign is expected to kick off. It is worth noting that, before the onset of the crisis, the Syrian market had enjoyed near self-sufficiency. (Source:

US approves 3 more types of Simplot GMO potatoes for sale this year

Genetically modified potatoes that won’t bruise are a step closer to public consumption as early as this fall, now that Simplot Co. has received final government approval to grow and sell them.The federal government has given the final OK to three more types of potatoes genetically engineered by Boise’s J.R. Simplot Co. to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine. They are safe for the environment and safe to eat, officials announced. The approvals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration last month mean Simplot is free to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. The approvals apply to Simplot’s second generation of its Innate line of potatoes. The first generation already is sold in stores under the White Russet label. The company said the latest varities will have less bruising and fewer black spots, enhanced cold-storage capacity and a lower amount of a potentially carcinogenic chemical that is created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. More

UK: Isle of Ely Produce ventures into fresh washed potatoes

Traditionally known for processed potatoes for the food service industry and fish and chip sector, UK company Isle of Ely Produce, have ventured into the world of fresh washed potatoes. According to Oliver Boutwood, Commercial Director at the company, “Under the Oliver brand we do boxed baker potatoes and salad potatoes.” This is not a new innovation, there are a lot of people doing it, but as our company is getting bigger we feel the need to branch out into new categories and to add value to our potatoes. Our customers are now also asking for the products.” A majority of Isle of Ely’s potatoes are sourced in the UK, but they also source from France, Israel and Spain. “We are trying to develop export markets in the Nordic countries and the Far and Middle East, such as Dubai and Singapore. We see opportunities for our products outside the UK.” More on FreshPlaza

UK: Potato grower Isle of Ely Produce enters pre pack market

Potato grower enters pre pack marketCambridgeshire potato grower Isle of Ely Produce has launched a new brand aimed at foodservice and catering suppliers to mark its entrance into the pre pack market. Named Oliver’s, after commercial director Oliver Boutwood, the brand comes as Isle of Ely recently invested in a new pre packing line. The firm, which exhibited at Fruit Logistica for the first time last week, is primarily known as a supplier to the chipping market and for its close ties with the fish and chip sector. “This is a way for us to grow the business,” said Boutwood. “The Oliver’s brand will include salad and baking potatoes, aimed at chefs, caterers and foodservice suppliers. “We want to get potatoes back on the plate again. The most important thing is for chefs to understand the difference between varieties. If you choose the wrong potato this might result in a consumer choosing a different carbohydrate next time, such as rice or pasta.” More

Canada: Red-skinned potato varieties lead selections by breeders

Red-skinned potatoes are sure to be on the minds and menus of many after remarkable results shown by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s selections this year. Red-skinned varieties made up half of the total selections AAFC breeders released to industry during the annual Potato Selection Release Open House on Wednesday. For the first time, the program will unveil a multi-purpose red-skinned selection, showing promise for processing as wedges and as a traditional table potato. In all, 15 selections were displayed this year by the AAFC breeding program for industry representatives. The selections were narrowed down from more than 100,000 hybrid seedlings grown, tested and measured over six years in AAFC greenhouses, laboratories and fields across Canada. For close to two decades, the province has participated in variety variation with the federal government by hosting regional trial sites. More

Tanzania: Are these the climate-smart potatoes?

Situated in the Northeast of the country, the district of Lushoto is part of the so called highlands of Tanzania where potatoes are traditionally grown. Due to heat and lack of resilient potato varieties, farmers would lose all the crop especially when they grow the local variety called Kidinya which is extremely susceptible to Late Blight disease. To address these issues, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), initiated a study aimed at developing more resilient potato varieties that can grow in both long and short rainy seasons and give higher yields. The study, initiated in 2013, was led by the International Potato Center (CIP) in partnership with Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Lushoto District Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Cooperatives Office (DAICO), YARA Tanzania Limited, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Lushoto farmers. More

The Debunker: Are Most Nutrients in a Potato Really Found in the Skin?

potatooooGreat news, everyone – the Idaho Potato Commission has named February as its official Potato Lovers’ Month! In the commission’s own words, this is a time to “explore Idaho® Potato versatility from a different and exciting angle.” Some of us in the other forty-nine states sadly don’t get to take all of Potato Lovers’ Month off work, like they probably do in Idaho, but we can celebrate in other ways. For example, we’ve asked Jeopardy!‘s Ken Jennings, who lives in an Idaho-adjacent state, to correct any morsels of our potato knowledge that might be a little half-baked… More

US: Volm Companies’ Matt Alexander Talks Light-Blocker Half-N-Half® Bags

Half-N-Half BagsOne of the many goals I have seen across the board in fresh produce, is the mission to find better ways to extend shelf-life through innovation. When it comes to the potato category, Volm Companies has retailers covered with its Light-Blocker Half-N-Half® Bags. Matt Alexander, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, joined me to discuss the highlights of Volm’s technology and what recent studies can share about the packaging product. In an effort to gather even more data and benefits of the product, Volm recently engaged the Michigan State University School of Packaging with the objective of researching the best bag to prolong potato shelf-life during retail storage. “We have made a real impact at retail and with the end-consumer with our Light-Blocker Half-N-Half bags which MSU researchers found can extend shelf-life by 12 to 17 days over traditional poly and paper bags for Russet potatoes on the measurement of weight loss,” Matt shared with me, adding that potatoes lose weight when exposed to light because their temperature rises. More

Canada: Little Potato Company chooses Linkfresh solution

ImageThe Little Potato Co, based in Edmonton in the western province of Alberta in Canada, has chosen Linkfresh Inc. to provide its enterprise resource planning system. The 25-user Microsoft Dynamics Nav Linkfresh ERP solution will give the Little Potato Co. capabilities that include integrated solutions for forecasting, finance, purchasing, sales, grading and production, according to a news release. “The Linkfresh ERP solution will allow us to eliminate inefficient manual processes in our operations, such as double data entry, as well as providing real-time information for greater insight into customer service levels and financial performance,” Matthew Havertape, vice president of finance for Little Potato Co. and project lead on the changeover, said in the release. The Little Potato Co. develops, grows and markets creamer potato varieties, according to the release. “We are thrilled to welcome The Little Potato Co. as our latest customer, and are excited to help them deploy the latest ERP technology to consolidate their market leading position,” Robert Frost, founding director of Linkfresh Inc., said in the release. (Source: The Packer. Author: Tom Karst,  a national editor for The Packer and Farm Journal Media, covering issues of importance to the produce industry including immigration, farm policy and food safety. Find Tom’s Twitter account at

Australia: Fast growing fresh cut potato market

The Australian potato industry has been suffering from a short supply recently, but according to reports this week things are about to improve as the crop comes on line. South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales were significantly affected but Queensland got off a bit lighter. According to Kerri Lamb from Wickham Farms, “we are farmers, we just persevere. We are growers so we have control over our supply chain, we can supply our customers although we don’t have excess stock.” Wickham Farms grows in different locations across Queensland for the Queensland market. The company grows about 6000 tons for Coles supermarkets and also supply fresh prepared potatoes for caterers, food service and food manufacturers. “The fresh prepared market has been growing quickly in the last few years and now we grow varieties specifically for this market. It is more economical for businesses to buy pre-prepared potatoes especially if they are using consistently large volumes,” according to Kerri. More

Pakistan: Optimism about potato exports

AS potato harvesting and exports gain momentum, farmers from central Punjab’s potato belt expect 20pc additional yield and better exports this year. Officials have set a target of 3.6m tonnes from just over 400,000 acres sown this season, while farmers think that the production can go up to 4.3m tonnes. In view of the expected output, growers worry that the current price level may drop if exports do not gain momentum. The porous borders with both Iran and Afghanistan helped informal potato trade, and Afghanistan played a big role. According to farmers, both these countries have bought substantial quantity of the commodity in the last few months. The formal export process is also gaining momentum because the Russians slapped a ban on potato imports from Egypt and Bangladesh last year which is still in place. And a new market, Yemen, has opened up this year. Even bigger help in the potato exports has come from some domestic investors. Those involved in kinnow exports have entered the potato processing over the last two years. More

US: Shore potato growers hope for better prices

Shore Potato Growers Hope for Better PricesThe bulk of potato shipments from Virginia’s Eastern Shore are chip-stock potatoes, and the 2017 market is looking up for growers of the variety. Potatoes constitute a small but substantial share of cropland on the peninsula, and nearly 30 farmers gathered recently to hear the 2017 market outlook during the annual Eastern Shore Agricultural Conference and Trade Show in Melfa. “Most of our best pricing years have occurred following decreases in production,” said Brett Richardson, marketing specialist for the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, who delivered the talk. “When we have a better year, it’s not because people are suddenly buying more potatoes. It’s very supply-driven, and when supplies are down in competing areas, we will have a better year.” Predicting this year’s potato market relies heavily on the fall harvest, which accounts for 92 percent of potatoes grown in the U.S., he said. As always, weather will play an important role in this year’s market, and that remains unpredictable. More

‘Don’t blame the spud!’: Nutritionist speaks up in defence of the potato

Put down the fries: Ms Shaw said the problem is with the way the potatoes are cooked, not the potatoes themselves (stock photo)When it comes to weight gain, many people put the blame for extra kilograms on carbohydrates. Going gluten free has become popular in recent years, with the focus initially on cutting out pasta, rice and bread. When that doesn’t work, many cut out potatoes as well, according to Australian sports nutritionist Abby Shaw. Ms Shaw wrote in Nine Coach that many of her clients cut out carbs and then come to her saying they’re not losing any weight. ‘Sorry to burst your bubble, but it is probably not the potato that made you gain the extra few kilograms,’ she said. ‘My guess is it is what you are putting on the potato, or maybe how you are cooking the potato, or that the potato in fact been turned into french fries. Please don’t blame the spud!’ The nutritionist said that the way you consume potatoes is the most important thing. So out with the chips and fried potato, in with having them whole and baked. ‘[Whole potatoes] contain 10 percent or more of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid and potassium,’ Ms Shaw explained. More

US: Bushmans’ potato program faring well despite challenges

With supplies running short, some Wisconsin red potato shippers approached mid-January filling orders with spuds purchased from elsewhere. But grower-shipper Bushmans’ Inc. was still shipping from its own storage, Mike Carter, chief executive officer, said. Bushmans’ red potatoes “are holding well and the quality is good. We are not shipping from outside packing plants.” He acknowledged that Wisconsin’s red potato crop overall “has been a challenge this year” because of flooding in southern Wisconsin, which is heavy to red production. Some reds also are produced in the Antigo area. Wisconsin weather in the fall “did us no favors. It’s difficult all over. We still have reds. They are part of our program.” More

US: Associated Growers sees mixed results for the red potato market

Associated-Paul-Dolan“For the growers that had potatoes, it will be a decent year,” said Paul Dolan, the manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc. Having potatoes if you’re a Red River Valley grower wasn’t necessarily a given for the 2016 crop. The river valley that runs between North Dakota and Minnesota was plagued by rain in the fall and then more rain — and mud — at harvest time. It was so muddy that even the most macho field equipment couldn’t conquer the mire. Dolan said after many spuds were entombed for a certain length of time, the quality was beyond hope and the potatoes were left in the field. On the other hand, in the Grand Forks, ND, growing area to the south of the district, the losses weren’t as bad. Red River Valley growers will be watching Florida for new crop red potato supplies. Florida’s growing weather had been good at least for the early part of the weather. Of course Florida potato availability will be influencing market prices. More

UK: Manor Fresh potato supplier sees growth in 2017

Newly filed results for Manor Fresh, a potato supplier, revealed turnover topped £60.3m for the year to 30 April 2016, compared to £57.1m a year earlier. Pre-tax profit also increased to £1.6m from £1.4m. The company upgraded its potato packing facility in Spalding in its 2014/15 financial year and has continued to invest in people and processes, which it said “contributed significantly” to its performance in the year under review. The UK’s potato harvest in 2015 totalled 5.4 million tonnes, down from 5.7 million tonnes, but Manor Fresh said the “overall quality, availability and values” remained relatively stable. It added that the sale of green vegetables was “particularly strong” due to customers’ awareness of the health benefits of unprocessed vegetables. Source:

UK: Morrisons buys Farmcare potato operations

PotatoesMorrisons has acquired Farmcare’s Carnoustie potato packhouse in a deal that will see Farmcare supply the retailer with potatoes and other products. The news comes as Farmcare announced last year that the Carnoustie site had entered a period of consultation with staff after a significant packing contract was not renewed. The purchase also boosts Morrisons’ UK food manufacturing sites to 17, while Farmcare CEO Richard Quinn said it is “a strong strategic fit” with his business. Carnoustie will be used to store, grade, pack and procure potatoes for Morrisons customers, and Farmcare will also supply the business from across its 11 sites across the country, a statement said. Morrisons said it now intends to commence TUPE discussions with Farmcare Carnoustie staff as part of the agreement. Farmcare has 11 estates across the country and will supply potatoes and a range of other produce to Morrisons. More

US: Gloomy outlook for potatoes

“We are coming out of a season with superb growing conditions in Idaho and Washington state,” says Marc Turner with Bushwick Commission Company. Idaho sets the tone as it is the largest growing state. “Because of great yields and high quality, everyone in the industry is now working with oversupply and low prices,” Turner added. “Going into the new season, the market was low to begin with due to spillover volume from the 2015 harvest.“ Although other pockets of the country didn’t have as much oversupply, volumes out of Idaho and Washington overshadow other states. Given that potatoes are available year-round without a supply gap, Turner’s outlook is a steady situation with low prices. He compared the potato industry to the onion sector. “With onions, prices are low as well. It’s probably even worse, but at least it is a seasonal business,” he mentioned. “Supplies usually finish up in spring and the outlook beyond spring looks more positive.

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Europe: Potato harvest goes directly to the supermarkets

Selling potatoes, but differently. No bags of 2.5 or 5 kilogram but, as with nuts, getting your preferred portions from the tap of a dispenser system. It is a solution that shortens the distance from harvest to supermarket. In Northern Europe, this system is very successful in supermarkets, according to Olaf ter Haar. He supports this innovation for the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). He is currently looking for a distributor for this concept. “The producer is looking for a cooperation partner to bring the product to the Benelux and Germany,” he adds.  Fruit and vegetables are nicely presented in better supermarkets, so that customers can easily grab them. In many Northern European supermarkets this is also the case for root crops such as potatoes and onions. The underlying logistical part has been thought out in such a way that it is easy for staff to move large amounts from the loading dock to the supermarket. More

CONPAPA: ‘Mexico won’t import fresh potatoes from the United States’

CONPAPA (National Confederation of Potato Producers of Mexico) did not allow the market opening sought by potato producers from the US because they haven’t met some of the plant health requirements stipulated by law regarding potato imports, reports According to federal authorities in Mexico, 43 diseases of quarantine importance, have been detected in the US. In that sense, the president of CONPAPA, Gerardo Garcia Menaut, said although there were no commercial reasons to ban the entry of potato imports from the United States, it was not allowed as a preventative measure to safeguard the integrity of Mexican potato crops and Mexican producers. “The opening sought to import potatoes was not issued because American producers did not comply with the plant health requirements established to import potatoes,” said the president of Conpapa. He also warned of the risk that ignoring these preventative measures posed, even though the the entry of potatoes is permitted at the border areas of the country. More

Schmieding Produce launches new 100-calorie Skinny Potatoes

According to research from PaleoLeap, the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and Christmas is 3.5 pounds, but overweight people gain an average of 5 to 10 pounds during this time frame. January is a key month for Americans to lose weight. “We are extremely excited about the launch of our new 100 Calorie- Skinny potato product next week,” says Scott McDulin- Vice President of Marketing/Retail Sales with Schmieding Produce. During January, everybody wants to focus on health. “We think the January timeframe is perfect since people are actively looking for diet friendly items to help with nutritional meal planning. The Skinny potato is a 100-calorie potato that offers consumers an opportunity to use smart portion control while keeping potatoes as part of a healthy diet,” mentioned McDulin. Supermarkets are filled with 100-calorie packs of yogurt, pretzels, popcorn, snacks, etc. “Nabisco recently launched 100-calorie packs of Oreo’s,” shared McDulin. “It shows that the 100-calorie measurement resonates with today’s consumers so we wanted to add the same portion controlled serving to the potato segment.”  Continue reading

Niche potatoes boost potato demand in Sweden

Potato demand in Sweden has been on the rise in the last two years, despite seeing some setbacks in 2010/11 when reports about the GI (Glycemic Index) were flooding the news, causing consumers to think twice about how potatoes fit into a healthy lifestyle. “It was really tough there for a while when all of the GI reports came out, but I am happy to say that the future is looking a lot brighter. I think that the unique potato varieties have been generating a lot of renewed interest. We have a younger generation of consumers who are really tuned in and once they become interested in something, they really want to explore and learn everything about it. I have also found that once they try something they like, they keep on coming back for more.” said Anders Ericsson, from LEV & Co. One of the newer niche varieties that has been getting a lot of attention on social media is the Apache potato. Launched exclusively for Swedish retailers and food service 5 years ago by LEV & Co, in cooperation with Scottish potato producer Albert Bartlett, the speckled red and white potatoes can be found exclusively in major Swedish retailer ICA. More