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

US: Strong markets should reward lowered potato supply

harvest-WPVGAEarly estimates suggest that Wisconsin’s potato crop may be down roughly 5 percent this fall. However, if prices hold strong, as they were in late August, the decreased supply is more than compensating for the lost production. Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, based in Antigo, estimated that Wisconsin’s fresh potato crop would be about 27 million hundredweight for the 2017 growing season. The 2016 fresh crop came in at 28.5 million hundredweight. Late in August Houlihan said growers were enjoying great potato prices. “The market is fantastic now,” he said. “They [prices] have gone through the roof. There is very strong demand now.” “We typically see high prices in August but these are very good prices and have strong demand,” he said. More

US potato exports hit record levels

The volume and value of all U.S. potato exports — including a 9% increase in fresh potatoes — hit record numbers in fiscal year 2017. Potatoes USA reported the gains from July 2016-June 2017 on Aug. 29. Sales hit $1.76 billion and volume reached 71.84 million cwt. at their fresh weight equivalent, according to a news release from Potatoes USA. Japan is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, followed closely by Canada. A total of 680,264 metric tons went to Japan in the past fiscal year, and 635,463 metric tons of fresh and processed potatoes were shipped to Canada. Mexico is in third place, with 527,464 metric tons of potatoes sent from the US. Fresh potatoes are still restricted to a 26-kilometer zone in Mexico. Potatoes USA sees growth opportunities for US exporters, even as the strong US dollar and competition from the European Union challenge growers. “However, prospects still look good for US exports as the dollar has weakened over the past six months and US processors are expanding capacity while ongoing efforts could increase access for US fresh potatoes to a number of markets,” according to the release. (The Packer)

Maris Piper still king but British growers use new varieties to meet retail demand

British potato growers have planted an increased area of emerging varieties to serve the fresh packing market, amid reports of increased levels of ‘on-contract’ supermarket supply where prices are agreed in advance. However, Maris Piper comfortably remains the most planted potato, with three times more area than the next most popular fresh packing variety. The varieties that have gained the most area this season are fresh packing potatoes Nectar and Melody, which increased their area by 1,000 hectares (ha) and 700 ha respectively. Both are more recent introductions to the UK market than Estima, which has decreased in area by an estimated 400 ha this season. AHDB Potatoes Market Intelligence Analyst, Amber Cottingham said: “The packing market has seen another increase in area this season, with acreage intended for processing declining once more. This may be due to a reported increase in contracts offered in the packing market as retailers seek to reduce the financial fluctuations they encounter in meeting demand.  Continue reading

The Creamer potato: Potatoes bred to be small


What is a Creamer potato? The Little Potato Company, based in Canada and also operating in the US, has built a business around the smallest potato in its family. It’s a unique combination of being naturally buttery tasting and bite-sized, resulting from the company’s specialized breeding program. They’re bred to be small, ranging from 19 – 41mm in size. “We’re focused solely on the breeding, growing, packaging and marketing of proprietary little Creamer potatoes,” said Shelley Henschel, marketing manager for The Little Potato Company. “It’s all we do!”  A lot of focus centres around constantly looking at packaging improvements, new flavors and new cooking techniques. The Creamer potatoes are grown in carefully selected areas across North America. “Potatoes are grown throughout the year to supply our grading and packaging facilities that are located in Alberta and Prince Edward Island, Canada, as well as, our new grading and packaging facility in DeForest, Wisconsin,” said Henschel. More

Study: Consumers in Spain prefer fresh potatoes; buy potato products also via e-commerce channels

Image result for la patata frescaAccording to a news story published by the Spanish website Argenpapa, consumers in Spain bought a total of 1,32 million kilos of potatoes during March 2016 and March 2017 – 6.3 million kilos more than in the same time period for the previous year. This translates into an increase of 87 million euros. A study done by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment in Spain found that consumers prefer fresh potatoes, a segment that represents more than 70% of total potato consumption, or 22 kilos per person annually. The average consumption of all potato products (including processed) is about 30 kilos per person per year. Households with single and retired adults have the highest consumption rates, which stand at an average of 41 and 43 kilos per person per year respectively. The study further found that potatoes and potato products bought by Spanish consumers through e-commerce channels grew by 21% since 2016. Read the full story in Spanish

Ireland: Produce wholesaler signs €70m potato deal with Aldi

John O’Shea of O’Shea’s Farms and Paul Scally, Aldi Ireland’s Buying DirectorIndependent.ie reports that a Kilkenny-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler has signed a deal to provide Aldi with €70m worth of Irish-grown potatoes over three years. Under the new agreement, Iverk Produce will supply Aldi’s 129 Irish stores with 27,000 tonnes of locally-grown rooster, white and salad potatoes annually, representing a significant increase in the quantities Iverk Produce currently supplies to Aldi’s stores. Based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, Iverk Produce employs over 190 people from the local community full-time, in addition to a further 30-40 seasonal workers. 

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US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: ‘Mexican court ruling ignores science’, says NPC

In a statement released last night, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US says the recent ruling by a district court judge in Los Mochis to continue the ban on US potatoes in most of Mexico “ignores science and directly threatens the role of the Mexican plant health regulatory authority, SAGARPA”. In the statement, the NPC further says the ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, USDA and third party experts that have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico. In its statement, NPC points out that SAGARPA has completed and published a Pest Risk Assessment “that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated”. Similar analysis by a panel of third party experts facilitated by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) reached a similar conclusion, NPC says in its statement. The organization is of the opinion that the ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico. Continue reading

Nielsen research confirms that microwaveable category is strong and leading US brand is outpacing competition

A recent study on the microwaveable/steamable fresh potato segment conducted by Nielsen FreshFacts® highlights the continuing positive performance of this segment led by Side Delights® Steamables™ – which accounts for more than half of all dollar sales in the category. Potatoes still lead as the #1 ranked vegetable based on volume sales, and the microwavable/steamable potato segment growth trend continues – up 12.6% in volume sales and up 28.4% in dollar sales versus last year. Side Delights® Steamables dominate with 62% of the dollar share and 63% of the volume share in the segment despite a comparatively smaller product grouping than the competition (6 items for Side Delights® Steamables versus 25 items for the competition). Additionally, Side Delights® Steamables’ dollar velocity outpaced the competition, selling faster than any of the other brands. The top two selling Side Delights® Steamables items (in dollar and volume) are the Red and Golden potatoes, which increased their distribution 18.2% and 15.8% respectively vs YAGO. Side Delights® Steamables are available exclusively through the Fresh Solutions Network. Continue reading

‘The Little Potato Company that could…’ – Canadian specialty company opens first U.S. potato-processing facility

Image result for angela santiago little potato companyMany parents might recall reading a book to their children called “The Little Engine that Could,” sometimes over and over again. It’s a story of a small train that tries its best to bring toys to children on the other side of a hill. The story of The Little Potato Company is somewhat like that… Angela Santiago, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, and her father and co-founder, Jacob (Jake) van der Schaaf, were told more than once that no one would want the small potatoes they were hoping to market, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dream. The Little Potato Co. celebrated the grand opening of its new U.S. processing facility in Wisconsin on July 27. The $20 million facility is building up steam to supply pint-sized potatoes to consumers across much of the country. The company specializes in creamer (baby/salad) potatoes – potatoes that mature at a smaller size than potatoes that are usually found in a grocery bag. Demand for the potatoes has grown exponentially since van der Schaaf came up with the idea a little more than 20 years ago and convinced his daughter to join him in the effort. Van der Schaaf, a Dutch immigrant, longed for the small creamer potatoes he had eaten as a youngster, so in 1996, he suggested to his daughter that they test out the market for little potatoes. More

The ban on importation of US potatoes into Mexico as explained in article published in the Spanish ag press

The decision by a judge in Mexico a few days ago to prohibit the importation of potatoes from the US received intense attention in ag circles in both countries, and beyond. A news story about this issue was published on the Spanish ag news website ARGENPAPA (based in Argentina). The article is entitled “México: ¿Por qué Sagarpa prohibió la importación de papa?” – it was published online by ARGENPAPA yesterday, August 5. I publish a machine-translated (Google) version of this article below for the convenience of non-Spanish speaking readers of Potato News Today who might have an interest to read it. (Footnote: Sagarpa is the name for the Mexican department of agriculture).  Continue reading