New storage service launched for British potato growers

Related imageAHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research has announced the launch of a new potato storage service called VarietyCheck for the forthcoming season. According to AHDB, new regulations on acrylamide and fewer sprout suppressants it is more important than ever to get the right storage conditions for your variety of choice. The new service will be tailored to crop variety and dormancy, as well as end use. The VarietyCheck service will objectively assess grower’s new varieties or potato stocks under defined and accurately controlled storage conditions with processing or fresh pack storage options. For processing crops, selecting a variety with long dormancy and an ability to store at lower temperature without sweetening helps your customers overcome these challenges. Similarly, for fresh pack varieties, maintaining appearance and avoiding black heart are high on markets’ wish-lists.  Please contact Adrian Briddon on 01406 359412 to discuss your VarietyCheck requirements.

US: Unique potato marketing effort enjoying success

Image result for Fresh Solutions NetworkThe concept of produce growers banding together for marketing purposes but keeping their own identity is relatively unique, but it is working quite well for eight potato grower-shippers spread out across the United States and Canada. Fresh Network Solutions, LLC and its Side Delights® brand of fresh potatoes are moving into its second decade of existence with a full slate of eight partners and more than a couple of dozen SKUs including many unique value-added options ranging from potato kits to fresh-cuts to organics. “We’ve hit our stride with our membership,” said Kathleen Triou, Chief Executive Officer and President of the San Francisco-based marketing organization.  “Any more partners and we would be redundant in some areas; any less and we wouldn’t have national coverage.” Triou said the group represents a significant percentage of fresh U.S. potato supply in aggregate, which gives it sufficient volume to negotiate with the largest retailers in the county on year-round programs. Triou believes that Fresh Solutions Network has its collective finger on the pulse of the North American shopper. “We see continued opportunities in the convenience sector of the category,” she said. More

Low-carb potatoes on the rise around the world

Image result for low carb potatoesLow-carb potatoes are getting attention throughout the world. In recent years, a number of varieties were introduced that are lower in carbs than conventional potatoes. Agrico introduced new potato variety Carisma a few years ago, and this contains naturally slowly digestive carbs. When developing the variety, Agrico worked with partners in Australia. Carisma is available at supermarket chains Albert Heijn and Emté in the Netherlands. Carisma is also being grown in Canada. The Scottish company Grampian Growers announced a new potato variety in 2015. Research shows the Gemson potato is similar to the Maris Peer potato regarding nutritional values, but that the Gemson has fewer carbohydrates. Potandon Produce from Idaho introduced a new potato variety in the autumn of 2017, and this potato – the CarbSmart potato – is said to contain 55 per cent fewer carbs than rice or pasta. In New Zealand, a new low-carb potato of T&G Global – Lotato – became a success within a few weeks. Years ago, HZPC developed and introduced the Sunlite concept: Potatoes with 30 per cent fewer calories than regular potatoes. The concept was introduced in the US, Spain, Italy and Cyprus. More

New potato variety said to have higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates

Image result for Mistra Biotech potatoA research group at Mistra Biotech has recently made a major breakthrough: they have developed a new potato variety with a higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates. “This is wonderful news. This potato, with its higher content of resistant starch, has many good health characteristics,” says Xue Zhao, a PhD student researching vegetable food at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala. The new potato was developed by a group of plant breeders in Mistra Biotech, headed by Mariette Andersson. This potato’s main characteristic is its relatively high content of “resistant starch” —starch that behaves like fiber; that is, instead of being absorbed by the small intestine, it enters the large intestine undigested. This confers numerous positive health effects. For example, it reduces glucose levels and insulin reactions; optimizes bacterial flora in the gut and gives a good boost to processes in the stomach; and can also facilitate weight loss. More

Canadian govt invests in robotic technology for potato packing operation

Equipment Upgrade Potato Packing Plant Patates Dolbec in Quebec receives government supportYesterday, a delegation of the Canadian federal agriculture department visited Patates Dolbec’s potato packaging facility in Quebec which has just completed an expansion and modernization project. This project, supported with a federal government investment of up to $4.5 million, includes the purchase and installation of new robotic equipment that will sort, grade, and pack more fresh potatoes in less time, enabling the company to improve their product quality, lower operational costs and develop new markets in the United States. The upgrade represents a total of $12 million. According to Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, investing in innovation will enable Patates Dolbec to grow sales and demand for Quebec-grown potatoes all around the world, helping to build a strong and prosperous agriculture and agri-food sector.  Continue reading

Jersey royal potatoes delayed by ‘beast from the east’

Image result for jersey potatoesThe jersey royal season is at least three weeks late after the “beast from the east” delayed the planting of the spring crop. The potato’s short season, usually from April to mid-July, has been affected by hard frosts and almost double the 30-year average of rainfall in December and January, which growers say left the ground saturated and “undesirable for planting”. Jersey normally exports around 30,000 tonnes of the potatoes to the UK each season, but producers say the figure could be up to 20% lower this year, with full volumes expected to be on supermarket shelves by mid-May. Tim Ward, operations director at the grower Albert Bartlett, said: “The hard frosts we received from the beast from the east affected most of the early crops. More

The russet still Idaho’s Goliath potato, but its colorful David challengers making headway

Colorful SouthWind fingerlings vertical IMG_0718Move over, russets. When you shop in a supermarket produce section or order from a fine-dining restaurant menu, you’ll see small, colorful potatoes and fingerlings vying for your attention. That’s making an impact on Idaho’s iconic potato-growing industry, which is noticing the little spuds’ rising prices and profit potential. Russets still dominate, with 92 percent of Idaho’s potato crop and 71 percent nationwide devoted to the familiar brown spud. Smaller potatoes, which include varieties sold fresh but also used for French fries and potato chips, account for 8 percent of Idaho acres planted and 29 percent nationally. because the small potatoes carry a premium price, their share of the overall potato market in dollars has increased to 15 percent, from 10 percent four years ago, according to Potandon Produce, a large Idaho shipper. Small potatoes became popular in Europe decades ago and have made inroads in the United States over the past 20 years. More

US retail shows surprising russet gains; ‘mini’ potatoes keep climbing in sales

Reversing recent market share erosion, potato category leader fresh russet potatoes showed modest volume gains in July through December. “We are seeing growth in categories we haven’t seen growth in for a while, which has been nice,” said Ross Johnson, global marketing manager for Potatoes USA, Denver. “We haven’t seen (russets) grow for a long time.” In visits across the U.S., Johnson said Potatoes USA has been working with retailers to help them take advantage of how the potato category can drive produce department profits. “I think there is an understanding (retailers) need to focus more on the potato category to help it grow even stronger.” Johnson said spuds help drive sales of other foods that can be paired with potatoes. From the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2017, the “mini” category has almost doubled, reaching nearly 16% of potato category sales, Ralph Schwartz, vice present of sales for Potandon Produce said  “No one is sure what the overall percent of the category it is going to capture but it keeps climbing,” he said. More

American social media superstar lost 17 lbs. in 9 days with post-heart attack diet of just potatoes

Image result for Kevin Smith Says He Lost 17 Lbs. in 9 Days With Post-Heart Attack Diet of Just PotatoesYou say potato; I say diet food? It’s been less than a month since Kevin Smith‘s massive “widow-maker” heart attack laid out the comedy king and almost took his life. Now, just weeks later, the director and social media superstar, who was told by doctors he had to lose 50 lbs, is making serious changes, namely that he’s gone on a very strict diet, currently consisting of only potatoes. The 47-year-old explained that he’s following the diet from illusionist Penn Jillette’s book, Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear, which details eating just potatoes for two weeks before incorporating salads and vegetables, but not fruits or nuts, for the next three months. “It’s a pretty intense program, but it’s been interesting,” said the funnyman, who appears to be taking his life-threatening situation seriously. More

‘I will pay a premium for Irish potatoes,’ says fast-food mogul

‘I will pay a premium for Irish potatoes’ – Pat ‘Supermac’ McDonaghSupermac’s supremo Pat McDonagh says the time has come to put Irish potatoes back on the map. Despite the iconic role the potato crop has played in Irish history, domestic potato production has decreased from 332,000ha in 1850; to just over 9,000ha today. Each year Ireland imports an estimated 50,000t of potatoes; with businessman McDonagh using up approximately 50t on a weekly basis to supply his multi-million euro empire of fast-food restaurants which includes: Supermac’s; Papa John’s Pizza; SuperSubs and Macs Place Diners. Although McDonagh sources all fresh potatoes for his franchises from suppliers nationwide, currently this weekly domestic supply is in the region of just 10t per week. However, just like his meat supply which is 100% Irish sourced, McDonagh is eager to expand his domestic potato supply. Speaking to AgriLand, he also revealed plans to develop a domestically-based fresh chips ventureMore

British potato packer group hopeful for recovery in potato prices

Produce Investments offered hope for a recovery in UK potato prices from multi-year lows, citing the potential for setbacks to 2018 sowings prospects helping a drawdown in inflated stockpiles. Produce Investments, one of the UK’s biggest potato packers, which counts major supermarket chains among its customers, signalled the potential for a drop in the country’s plantings this year, with a lower demand for seed. “Sales of seed potatoes were slower during the [July-to-December] period than in the prior year as the impact of a temporarily oversupplied marketplace reduced growers’ appetite for investment in the next year’s crop,” the group said. And the UK’s harsh and extended winter has slowed plantings what farmers do intend to undertake. Meanwhile, sowing of the main UK crop “has only just commenced and all indications are that spring will run later this season with planting progress delayed versus recent seasons”. Produce Investments is the parent company of one of the UK’s leading potato businesses, Greenvale AP Ltd. More

Profits dip at potato supplier Branston, but ‘performance satisfactory’

Profits dip at major potato supplierProfits have dipped at one of the UK’s largest potato businesses, which is headquartered in Lincoln, despite a rise in turnover, according to new accounts. Branston, which supplies own-label products to supermarkets, such as Tesco, as well as selling under its own brand, has reported a drop in pre-tax profits from £7.7m to £6.4m for the year to 30 July 2017. However, during the same period, the company’s turnover rose from £123.2m to £143m. The company said the increase in turnover was due to a rise in volume and higher raw material costs as well as the market operating “consistently” above contract pricing. A statement signed off by the board said: “During the year, performance has been satisfactory and, as far as the board is aware, this is likely to be the case in the forthcoming year. More

Idaho Potato Commission launches new video series: Idaho Potato Life Hacks

The Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) has partnered with Ivan Nanney, former member of the Big Idaho® Potato Truck’s Tater Team and’s newest Cancun Experience Officer, to create a series of Idaho® Potato Life Hack videos showcasing the many uses of Idaho® potatoes beyond a recipe ingredient. These DIY (Do It Yourself) tater tricks use Idaho® potatoes to increase efficiency, safety, and creativity in everyday life. “Although Idaho® potatoes are one of America’s favorite vegetables, a lot of people aren’t aware of just how multifunctional spuds can be,” says Frank Muir, President & CEO, IPC. “So whenever you’re in a pinch, there’s a good chance an Idaho® potato can help. We like to call them ‘delicious and functional’.” Here are six Idaho® Potato Life Hacks that can make your life a little easier,  a few more ways Idaho® potatoes can help… More. And watch all the Idaho® Potato Life Hacks videos

In Victorian Britain, poor rural areas had the best diet and health – and potatoes were part of it…

Image result for potatoes and meatIt seems counter-intuitive but in the 19th century, the poor were better off than the rich, health and diet wise. A new study found that these rural societies enjoyed a more traditional lifestyle, eating high-quality foods and were overall better fed than their richer, urban counterparts. We often talk about eating like “the good old days” and most of the time, that’s just us using rose-coloured glasses. This study shows that at least in some instances, doing things the good old way is truly rewarding. The study’s author, Dr. Peter Greaves, of the Leicester Cancer Research Centre, examined the impact of regional diets in Victorian Britain, comparing it to available health and mortality data. The diets of the poor consisted mostly of cheap foodstuffs such as potatoes, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and fish. All in all, not only did these rural communities have lower mortality rates, but they also had fewer deaths from pulmonary diseases, indicating that they were significantly better fed. “The rural diet was often better for the poor in more isolated areas because of payment in kind, notably in potatoes, grain, meat, milk or small patches of land to grow vegetables.” More

Touchy-feely: Wireless Spud provides real-time data on potatoes in motion

The ‘Wireless Spud‘ (Wireless Potato Node) is a unique device that helps in the identification of the exact locations where potato damage takes place when potatoes are in motion – from harvesting to grading to transport. According to the manufacturer, Orka Food Technology, the device provides real-time measures of shock, vibration, rotation, tilting and temperature to which potatoes are subjected. The data generated by the Wireless Spud can assist operators to monitor potatoes during conveying, grading and packing as well as during transportation from farm and packing locations to the final point of sale, enabling appropriate corrective actions – if needed – to reduce bruising improve operational efficiency. The device mimics the shape, size and weight of a real potato. It is said to be water resistant and can pass through standard washing installations. Data can be transmitted up to 2 km (1.2 mile) from the physical location of the device. More