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

Underhanded down under? Australian wholesaler accused of ‘unfair’ potato contracts

Related imageAustralia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo, is facing legal action after being accused of entering into unfair contracts with its potato farmer suppliers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Tuesday said it had started Federal Court proceedings against the South Australian-based company – the first legal action taken under the recently introduced Horticulture Code. Mitolo, a major supplier to Woolworths and Coles, is facing allegations of unfair contract terms including signing exclusive supply contracts that allow it to vary prices unilaterally and prevent farmers from selling to other buyers. ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said Mitolo’s exclusive contracts also did not specificy how and when the price of potatoes would be determined. “These are some of the most egregious terms we have seen in agricultural contracts, and are key examples of the contracting practices in the sector that we want to address,” Mr Keogh said. Read more

Following the trend: Californian company goes all-in on organic potatoes

Image result for Top Brass goes all-in on organic potatoesTop Brass Produce, based in Bakersfield, CA, is the official sales agent for Vignolo Farms, which is celebrating its 80th birthday this year. “We have been farming organic grapes and potatoes for several years and are committed to organics,” said Brett Dixon, president of Top Brass. “The largest news this year is that we converted 100 percent of our potato business to organics. Now we only grow and sell organic potatoes out of the central valley of California. We offer red, yellow, and russet potatoes. Thankfully potatoes are trending up and have been for Top Brass,” Dixon said. According to him, it just made too much sense not to go in this direction. With the upcoming Organic Produce Summit on its schedule, some of Top Brass’ leaders are looking forward to meeting with their colleagues and customers to talk about why the company decided to move away from conventional potatoes and focus exclusively on organic.“It has been extremely rewarding to see consumers embrace organic produce,” Dixon said. Read more

Winds of change: Is America ready for a new potato?

Related imageFrom the Russet to the red and yellow, to specialty potato varieties, the US is a large producer and consumer of potatoes. In recent years, more people are seeking out new varieties and there is an increasing focus on flavor. One US-based company has been tasked with distributing one of the newest varieties of potatoes – the Huckleberry Gold. Grown in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, the Huckleberry Gold is a cross breed of European and American varieties. “The Huckleberry Gold is a purple-skinned, yellow-flesh potato that has been cultivated in the Northwest by our grower partner,” said Harris Cutler of Race-West, the company chosen to distribute the variety. “Every year they try out different varieties and last August, they began harvesting the Huckleberry Gold. The company grow for flavor and this year they are working on an all-purple potato.” “The parentage of the Huckleberry is fascinating,” he added.  Continue reading

28,000t of potatoes from a family farm in Ireland

Tillage focus: 28,000t of potatoes from a family farm in Co. KilkennyOver the past 45 years, O’Shea Farms has progressed from a family partnership of four brothers – Dick, John, Séamus and Joe O’Shea – to a business with a turnover of €60 million per year. The company processes 28,000t of potatoes each year at its base in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny. Iverk Produce, a sister company, distributes 90% of the potatoes and vegetables produced to Aldi. O’Shea Farms is also a sole supplier of carrots to SuperValu. Iverk Produce was formed in the 1980s. Fyffes (Total Produce) then came on board and Iverk Produce became a major distributor of fruit and vegetables to supermarkets across the country. Between the two businesses, 200 people are employed; a further 250 people are employed by local growers who supply Iverk Produce. Needless to say it’s a big operation, and AgriLand was lucky enough to get a glimpse into this monster business on a recent Agricultural Science Association (ASA) tour, sponsored by Glanbia and Total Produce. Read more

Let’s automate, mate: South Australian potato company partners with automation specialists to bring field to fork

Related imageThe South Australian Potato Company, founded by the Raschella family in that region, has been supplying potatoes for “every recipe, every occasion and every season for more than 20 years,” they say. Dealing with more than 60, 000 tons of potatoes annually obviously requires quality automation by reliable suppliers to ensure always-on productivity and extreme care with this wholesome produce. When looking to kit out its factory – which does everything from washing and sorting to weighing and packaging potatoes – The South Australian Potato Company eventually looked to SMC as its preferred supplier. Jay Dawson, maintenance manager for the company says: “In selecting the perfect automation partner we look to deciding factors such as an excellent, broad product range, superior technical expertise, a factory maintenance plan, a reputable brand that aligns with ours and a company that is innovative and keeps up with the trends. SMC fitted the bill to the tee.” Read more

UK a net exporter of fresh potatoes in 2017/18 season so far

Image result for potato exportFollowing the large harvest of over 6Mt of potatoes in 2016/17 there has been an abundance of potatoes in GB stores. This has pressured prices domestically with a clear divergence on the basis of quality, especially for white varieties. Increased domestic production last season has translated to an observed reduction in fresh potato imports to the UK so far this season. Due in part to the large harvest of potatoes in GB last season, imports of fresh potatoes have declined so far in 2017/18. UK exports of fresh potato produce have increased by 5% to 152.5Kt between July 2017 and April 2018. The destination for the overwhelming majority of UK fresh potato exports is the EU, whose countries receive over 98% of UK fresh exports. Increased exports of fresh potatoes to Spain and the Netherlands have been observed (Jul-Apr) on the year in 2017/18, but they have declined to both Ireland and Belgium. Read more

US and Indonesia sign market access agreement for US fresh potatoes

Related imageOn June 5, the United States and Indonesia reached a market access agreement that will allow U.S. fresh potatoes to be exported to Indonesia under a defined set of phytosanitary requirements. The agreement comes after four years of discussions and will include both U.S. chipping potatoes for further processing and table-stock potatoes for direct consumption. Potatoes produced in all U.S. states are included in the agreement. U.S. potato growers and exporters will need to follow the requirements in the protocol to ensure Indonesia’s quarantine security, according to a June 12 press release issued by Potatoes USA. This includes growing from certified seed potatoes, taking actions to address any potential pests of concern, and sprout inhibiting the potatoes prior to export. Importers in Indonesia will be required to obtain an import permit prior to export. Indonesia is a market of 261 million people and is the largest market in Southeast Asia to which U.S. fresh potatoes had not previously secured formal market access. Read more

‘Pretty, unique and tasty’: In northern Maine, a new spud rises

The University of Maine last month announced the release of the Pinto Gold, a new variety of gourmet potato developed by the school's potato breeding program.One thing you should know about Dr. Gregory Porter — the man behind the University of Maine’s well-regarded potato-breeding program — is that he is not just a researcher of potatoes, he is also a fan. “Oh, I love ’em,” Porter said last week, during a break from working the 35 acres of potato fields he oversees at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle, Maine. “I eat ’em all the time. Never get sick of ’em. I like ’em baked, like ’em roasted, like ’em scalloped…” He likes ’em so much, in fact, that — in a development that recently drew national notice — he went ahead and created a brand new one. Dubbed the Pinto Gold for its yellow flesh and distinctive patchy skin pattern, the gourmet specialty potato introduced last month by the university is said to be particularly good for roasting but versatile enough to be boiled, baked, pan-fried, or chopped up and tossed atop a salad. “Pretty, unique, and the tastiest roasting potatoes you could ever have,” is how Porter described them. Read more

Little golden nugget: Univ of Maine releases new gourmet potato variety

Sporting a unique and striking skin pattern, the newly released Pinto Gold potato has been in development for twelve years. Out of 50,000 individual varieties tested at Univ of Maine’s Aroostook Research Farm, the Pinto Gold was selected as the most promising. The potato isn’t destined for large scale chip or french fry manufacturing, but for local gardeners, restaurants, and home cooking. Gregory Porter, Professor of Agronomy at the University of Maine, says: “This is unusual material and the crosses were really done for that specialty market, and that’s why it has the striking skin patterns. It has very small tubers and wouldn’t be the type of variety that would be used by everybody in the potato industry. But it works really well for that specialty market, and because of the small tubers, it’s very easy to put into a roasted product to get a lot of that nice skin. You just quarter the little potatoes and get a nice size potato for roasting.” The Pinto Gold is described as having a smooth, creamy texture when cooked. Watch video