Aldi’s rocketing potato sales in Wales highlights popularity of homegrown produce

Aldi’s potato sales rocket in WalesAldi’s potato sales in Wales have risen by a third since the retailer began sales of Welsh potatoes five months ago, highlighting the popularity of homegrown produce in the country. The discounter began stocking Welsh-grown potatoes in July 2017, thanks in part to a £4.8 million government support package adopted in 2015, which allowed producers to expand their production. This has helped generate a 33 per cent increase in Aldi’s potato sales, and the supermarket has ordered an additional 11,000 tonnes of Welsh potatoes, worth around £5 million, for the 2017/18 season. Puffin Produce supplies the supermarket with Maris Piper, baking and red potatoes, which are grown in Pembrokeshire and the Wye Valley. Says Huw Thomas, managing director of Puffin Produce: “It is amazing that Aldi is able to see an immediate uplift of 33 per cent within their potato category in Wales by providing a Welsh offering. “It really does show the fierce loyalty of the Welsh consumer to the large Welsh flag on the bag.” More

US seed potatoes welcomed in foreign markets

Potatoes USA is apparantly breaking new ground in Senegal, Guatemala, Myanmar, and Morocco by introducing new U.S. seed potato varieties over the past two years. These foreign governments are assisting the effort by welcoming more U.S. seed stock in a variety of ways following our International Seed Potato Symposium and state visits this summer. (The Senegalese went to California, the Guatemalans to Washington/Oregon, the Moroccans to Idaho and the growers from Myanmar to Wisconsin.)  Within days of returning from the USA, Senegal’s National Horticulture Director announced a farm subsidy of up to 30% to defray growers cost to purchase U.S. seed potatoes.  In Myanmar, U.S. seed potatoes (and fresh) became the first American horticulture products to be approved under new phytosanitary requirements.  Continue reading

US: Retail potato sales inch up for third straight month

In September, the total potato category was up 0.08 percent by weight when compared to the same time frame last year according to numbers from Potatoes USA. The total potato category was carried by deli (+2.4 percent), frozen (+1.3 percent) and fresh (+0.6 percent) with dehydrated and refrigerated declining, -0.03 percent and -1 percent respectively. Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern said the industry is “on a roll” when asked about the recent release of data. In the fresh potato category, the volume was carried by yellow (+8.4 percent), fingerling (+6.6 percent) and russets (+1.7 percent). Additionally, within package sizes, larger than 10 pound bags grew by double digits at +10.9 percent and 1-to-4 pound bags grew 7.9 percent. A full report is available for the total potato category and for the fresh potato category. (Source: Spudman)

British processed potato exports rising; fresh potato sales continue long-term downward trend

Great Britain processed potato exports are up by 24%, while imports are also up by 5%, according to AHDB GB Potatoes Market Intelligence 2017–2018 report. Net import of fresh potatoes reached 54,000t, up by 22%, while seed exports have increased 3% and exports are down by 60%. “Although this comes as no surprise, due to the poor yields achieved on the continent in the previous year, seed was in very high demand and was reported to be fetching upwards of EUR/1,000/t for certain varieties,” according to the report. This was driven by a 62% reduction in seed from the Netherlands. According to the report, fresh potato sales have continued their long-term downward trend over the past five years, with volume sales declining by 4% and value sales declining by 19% in the period. On the other hand, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker survey to monitor attitudes toward potatoes, finding that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy. More

Greenvale invests in new organic varieties

Greenvale invests in new organic varietiesGreenvale is investing heavily in new organic potato varieties as it looks to address a shortage in reliable, high-yielding organic potatoes. The producer and breeder, which claims to be the UK’s largest supplier of fresh organic potatoes, wants to support retailers as they try to grow this area of the market. It is looking to develop more hardy varieties than the Dutch and German potatoes currently on offer, which, according to technical and seed director Paul Coleman, “don’t produce a very big plant”. “Organics only account for about three to four per cent of potato sales at the moment,” he said. “It’s not a very big market and effectively it’s almost a service to the retailers to support all the other things we do. The supermarkets want an organic offering so you’ve got to be able to provide that. You’re not going to get rich on organics – in fact, you’re probably going to lose money – but it’s part of the overall range and you don’t make money across the whole piece.” More

US: Promoting potatoes as “athletic fuel”

Image result for potatoes athletesRecently, Potatoes USA received approval to spend money toward research with the goal of launching more proactive campaigns around potato nutrition. Instead of reactively combating negative health claims against potatoes, Potatoes USA will more actively promote potatoes as part of an active lifestyle, including for high-performance athletes. When he unrolled this strategy earlier this year, Potatoes USA President Blair Richardson said this will supplement current marketing efforts but not replace them. The research isn’t finished yet, but the group is already taking steps toward this goal of promoting potatoes as athletic fuel. “We are not going to be on our heels, we are going to be on our toes,” said Kim Breshears, director of marketing programs for Potatoes USA to the recent BIG Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting on Nov. 14. More

Idaho Potato Commission takes steps to address quality concerns

University of Idaho Plant Sciences Professor Mike Thornton demonstrates how proper cushioning within equipment can reduce potato bruising Nov. 14 during the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting. Thornton and UI Extension storage specialist Nora Olsen are helping the commission evaluate the possible causes of fresh potato quality concerns by some customers.

The Idaho Potato Commission is collaborating with researchers, major buyers, growers and shippers to address recent quality concerns about some of the state’s fresh potato shipments. Much of the discussion during IPC’s Nov. 14 Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting, hosted at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center, focused on the need to reduce bruising and other imperfections in fresh shipments. IPC President and CEO Frank Muir explained the commission is partnering with Walmart and a major food service buyer to learn more about the causes of quality problems, in response to an increasing number of customer complaints since the 2015 harvest. Muir said IPC also plans to conduct quality-improvement workshops for growers and shippers, is developing a handbook outlining best practices for handling potatoes and has commissioned University of Idaho potato researchers Nora Olsen and Mike Thornton to study the supply chain and determine causes of damage. More

UK: Branston’s Italian spuds return to Tesco

Branston's Italian spuds return to TescoBranston’s Italian new potatoes are back in Tesco stores for a seventh season. The spuds, grown in the Puglia region by Giuseppe Distaso, are being sold in 400 Tesco stores for five weeks. They represent the final seasonal new potato of the calendar year. Branston is suppliying more than 300 tonnes of the crop to Tesco, with shoppers able to purchase loose or in a 750g bag. “Our research shows that shoppers engage with new-season potatoes as they appreciate their fluffy skins and fresh taste,” said George Christoudias, sales and marketing director at Branston. “In season from late October, new potatoes from Italy are a highlight in the seasonal calendar. Renowned for their creamy texture, Italian potatoes are a new potato that will bring back memories of summertime with their light flavour.” More

Production of potatoes for consumption in the Netherlands up 27 percent, exceeds 4 million tonnes

Production of potatoes for consumption in the Netherlands up 27 percent, exceeds 4 million tonnesStatistics Netherlands (CBS) published its latest update of the potato harvest of 2017 in the Netherlands. Total production of potatoes for consumption for the first time since 2000 exceeded 4 million tonnes, an increase of 27 percent compared to 2016. Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) estimates the total production of potatoes for consumption – this excludes seed potatoes and potatoes grown for use in the potato starch industry – at just over 4 million tonnes (4.012 million tonnes). This is an increase of 27 percent compared to harvest 2016, when 3.16 million ton of potatoes for consumption was produced. The jump in production compared to last year looks much less dramatic when seen in a multi-year sequence, since last year represented the lowest production of potatoes for consumption in a decade. More

Swedish potato and onion sales system in German supermarkets

The Swedish system Agripo that has become the standard way of selling root vegetables in Sweden has now also been introduced in Germany. Especially the North of Germany was very interested. The system has been tested and can now be found in supermarkets such as Edeka, Real and Rewe. Agripo is a system in which separate potatoes on pallets can be sold in a simple and appealing way. This spring, Swedish Butikskonsult presented Agripo at the EuroShop in Düsseldorf with the goal to introduce the product in Germany. The reactions were positive. “The Agrpio system is the customary way of selling root vegetables in Sweden. We are of the opinion that it would be great if it would be used more and more outside of Sweden,” says Johan Särefors, Head of Export at Butikskonsult. More

US fresh produce company unveils its first low-carb potato

Potandon Produce has released a new CarbSmart potato, developed with lower carbohydrate levels. Officials say the product is an example of new choices in the fresh category helping to strengthen fresh-potato sales. Potandon Produce has released a new potato variety making a counter-intuitive marketing claim for a starchy vegetable. Officials say the product is an example of new choices in the fresh category helping to strengthen fresh potato sales. The Idaho Falls-based company unveiled its first low-carbohydrate potato Oct. 19 during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in New Orleans. Potandon boasts its CarbSmart potato has 55 percent fewer carbohydrates than rice or pasta. Ralph Schwartz, the company’s vice president of sales, marketing and innovation, believes the product will continue a recent trend of convenient, colorful and innovative specialty products strengthening sales in the long-stagnant fresh potato category. “We’ve been working on it for several years,” Schwartz said, explaining this is the pilot for what could become a broader line of potatoes bred for specific health attributes. More

Robinson Fresh and Albert Bartlett bring British potatoes to North America

Robinson Fresh and Albert Bartlett bring premium potatoes to North America. (Photo: Albert Bartlett)Robinson Fresh®, a division of C.H. Robinson, is now the exclusive provider of Albert Bartlett potatoes in North America. Albert Bartlett is a leader in the fresh and frozen potato market for the United Kingdom, and is increasing its presence in North America with headquarters in Denver and growers throughout the continent. “When we heard Albert Bartlett was looking for opportunities to further expand into the North American market, we knew we wanted to get involved,” said Michael Castagnetto, vice president of global sourcing at Robinson Fresh. “Albert Bartlett plays in a unique space in the food industry that we see as the forefront of consumer trends — the company prioritizes flavor to drive the category and provides a premium option to offer a meaningful culinary experience. As Michelin-star chefs and home cooks alike are utilizing this product, we believe this is the future direction of the produce industry.” More

US: RPE to feature new product innovations at Fresh Summit

What’s new in the fresh potato category? From RPE, Inc. a new potato item, a unique approach for commodity product and fresh innovations that add value for both consumers and retailers alike. New featured item: SteamPak Mini™, for the health conscious and on-the-go consumer, is a single-serve package of fresh potatoes. Microwaving in four minutes for a great snack or side dish, SteamPak Mini has no additives and addresses a trend toward smaller pack sizes and a desire from consumers to reduce food waste. Unique approach for commodity product: Old Oak Farms® Party Potatoes, offered exclusively by RPE, are fingerling potatoes re-imagined with precise size specifications. RPE will also highlight Tasteful Selections Steam & Savor™ steamable bags featuring Organic Mini Sweet Potatoes, and White Russet® brand potatoes. More

US: Red River Valley potatoes having good year

Potato growers in the northern plains region, which includes the Red River Valley on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, are enjoying healthy harvest yields, good quality and high demand. Red, and more so yellow varieties, have seen increases in market share in recent years. Ted Kreis, of Red River Valley Potatoes, said that the harvest has almost concluded for the year and yields have been above average for most potato varieties. “We grow all the main types of potatoes in the Valley for four fresh markets – fresh, seed, frozen processing and chips,” he noted. “The red and yellow varieties, in particular, have enjoyed above average yields, thanks to favorable growing conditions.” Consumers are turning more towards different colored potatoes, and the red and European yellow varieties are enjoying a surge in popularity. And despite the large volumes, demand is strong enough to absorb that stock. More

Hungary: Crisis in the domestic potato sector

Related imageWhile retail customers in Hungary may be delighted by the prospect of cheaper potatoes, growers are not happy about the fact that purchasers are buying potatoes at a lower price than last year, writes the Hungarian Times. In addition, there is no reason for the drop in prices, as the volume going into warehouses has been notably reduced due to the heat and the quality is far from optimal. Hungarian potato producers are not in an easy position. The hot summer and lack of rainfall have taken a negative toll on the production, so many growers will close the season with significant losses in the yield. Gábor Kecskés, president of the Hungarian Potato Association and Product Board, told the Hungarian Times that this year, growers have had to face extreme weather conditions. The harvest is already underway, but the production going to the warehouses is much smaller than last year’s; many growers reported losses of up to fifty percent, according to the president. More