New report: Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy potato snacks

Related imageSnacking is central to the strategy of food companies, with explosive growth in the number of new such products launched between 2010 and 2017: 125% in Europe and 47% in North America. According to a new report from New Nutrition Business, Strategies in Healthy Snacking, this also means that the healthy snacking segment is now an intensely competitive and crowded. “Companies have to work even harder to create a product that brings a real point of difference for the consumer,” says Julian Mellentin, author of the report. Commenting for on what consumers are looking for when they ask for healthy potato snacks, Mellentin says: “Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy such as reduced fat and reduced salt – reduced salt is of interest only to a minority of people aged 65+. Potato snacks are primarily about indulgence and pleasure and bringing health benefits mustn’t lose sight of this fact.” The report outlines 10 strategies for success in healthy snacking, illustrated with 15 case studies of healthy snacking brands in the US and Europe. More on

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

‘Recall Ready’ workshops for Washington State growers to be held in May

Related imageWashington growers will have two opportunities to be better prepared for the possibility of potato recalls. “The United Fresh Recall Ready Workshop is an exclusive education and training service that leverages the expertise of the food industry’s leading professions, in partnership between United Fresh Produce Association, and the legal and communications experts at OFW Law and Watson Green, among the food industry’s leading crisis counselling firms in Washington, D.C.” said the Washington State Potato Commission. The workshop is a one-day, hands-on training designed to help growers and their companies understand the fundamentals of a product recall. Growers will also get an in-depth look at how to effectively communicate to the industry, customers, consumers and the media with the proper communications plan. More

Alliance for Potato Research and Education aims to fight negative stereotypes about potatoes

Do potatoes belong in a healthy diet? Following a decades-long tide of negative buzz about the potato’s role in weight gain, diabetes and a host of other ills, this is the question the potato industry would like to answer once and for all with a resounding “yes!” Thanks to a recent initiative focused on potatoes and health, the industry is a big step closer to that goal, according to John Bareman, chair of the Canadian Potato Council and a board director with the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). In 2016, APRE, a joint venture between American and Canadian growers and processors, decided to focus on funding new scientific research on the connections between potatoes and nutrition. Peter Johnston, vice-president of Quality Assurance for Cavendish and secretary-treasurer for APRE, says the organization is intent on driving new questions about the links between potatoes and health. All studies funded through APRE will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals – regardless of the results, “because what that does is drive new questions,” says Johnston. More

Caught out: Bread found to have more salt than a bag of potato chips

What do you think has more salt: a slice of bread or a pack of potato chips? In some cases, the answer may indeed surprise you. Bread, it turns out, is the top contributor odietary sodium in the US and many other countries around the world. And a big new analysis from the World Action on Salt and Health, based at Queen Mary University of London, helps us understand why. For the report, a global team of researchers analyzed the salt content in 2,000 breads sold in 32 countries and regions. More than a third of the loaves exceeded the maximum salt target for bread set out by the UK: 1.13g of salt per 100g, or the equivalent of half a teaspoon of salt for about two slices of bread. The US has no official target, but voluntary draft Food and Drug Administration guidance suggests manufacturers should aim for about the same levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about nine in 10 kids and adults in the US exceed the daily limits for sodium consumption (2.3g, or one teaspoon’s worth). More

Acrylamide reduction: EU food industry prepares for legislation

Image result for potato crispsManufacturers in the European Union (EU) are preparing for new legislation that will regulate the amount of acrylamide in their products for the first time. The regulations, passed by the EU last year, will restrict the amount of acrylamide permissible in packaged foods and will force manufacturers to actively reduce the amount of acrylamide in their final products when it becomes law tomorrow. The EU has established ‘benchmark’ levels of acrylamide for various food products, ranging from 350 micrograms (μg) of acrylamide per kilogram for biscuits and cookies to 750μg per kilogram for potato crisps. Fried potato products like fries, potato chips and hash browns have been found to contain the most acrylamide while toasted bread can have up to ten times as much acrylamide as untoasted bread. More

‘What are you eating?’ Potatoes, of course!

Related imagePotatoes USA announced a new consumer marketing campaign at their Annual Meeting in Denver last week. The “What Are You Eating?” campaign is designed to encourage athletes to use potatoes as fuel for athletic performance. The campaign is designed to re-frame potato nutrition messaging from providing reasons why it is okay to eat potatoes to providing the reasons why you should eat potatoes for optimal athletic performance. Through a process of reviewing and analyzing potato characteristics and their implications, Athletic Performance was identified as the single-minded, lifestyle-oriented potato benefit that could best serve to strengthen the industry’s position in the marketplace. Talking to athletes represents a huge opportunity for the potato industry, 16% of the population or 30 million people exercise at least 2 times per week and participate in competitive events.  Continue reading

British potato processing company making food safety a priority

Lyons: Since the recall, food safety is now ‘the priority in decision making’The potato processing firm at the centre of a major product recall in Britain in 2015 has “radically changed its thinking” and now makes food safety “the priority in all of its decision-making”, according to the man appointed to oversee its transformation. Swancote Foods, which was found to be the source of a metal contamination scare that led to the recall of several own-label ready meals and vegetable dishes, has since undergone both a cultural and operational transformation, business unit director John Lyons told Food Manufacture. Lyons took on the top job at Telford-based Swancote in June 2016. Since taking over, the company has overhauled its preventative maintenance programme and invested in inspection systems including two X-ray machines. The May 2015 recall which affected products sold in Tesco and Sainsbury, among others cost Swancote, according to its owner Produce Investments. The fabrication issues, which were the immediate cause, were dealt with immediately. “But since I arrived, we’ve done an awful lot of work on addressing the underlying causes,” Lyons explained. More

Dr Oz show asks: Is it time to end the war on potatoes?

Image result for oz is it time to end the war on potatoesThe popular Dr Oz show in the US features potatoes and the myth that potatoes are fattening in its latest episode. “It’s been ingrained in your brain that you can’t possibly enjoy a potato and lose weight. It turns out, they may have gotten it all wrong. Some experts on the show say that potatoes may indeed be nature’s diet pill.” Plus, Daphne Oz reveals new food finds for 2018. Go here to watch the video. Also available on this page. Also featured: “How to Eat Potatoes to Lose Weight: Learn how to enjoy them without hurting your waistline.”

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

This nutritive ‘golden potato’ is the latest GMO superfood

Image result for yellow flesh potatoSufferers of malnutrition in the global south could soon find help from an unlikely source: a humble potato, genetically tweaked to provide substantial doses of vitamins A and E, both crucial nutrients for health. Dubbed the “golden potato,” boosted levels of provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A by digestive enzymes when eaten. The potato was genetically engineered in Italy using a technique called biofortification. It was created in a lab in Italy and studied at Ohio State University, is the most recent staple crop to be genetically transformed into a colorful superfood, joining such creations as antioxidant-rich purple rice and beta-carotene-enhanced golden rice. Continue reading

New European regulation on acrylamide: What manufacturers should know

New EU regulation on acrylamide will become effective in April. Pic: ©GettyImages/ZerborA new EU regulation on acrylamide is setting benchmark values in several categories that will affect the bakery and snacks sectors. Peter Müller, technical service manager, Food, at Novozymes examines the upcoming challenges facing manufacturers. The new European regulation on acrylamide reduction will go into effect on April 11, 2018. Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that forms when starchy foods are treated at high heat. The new EU regulation sets lower benchmark values in product categories that include French fries, potato crisps and other products made from potato dough, bread, breakfast cereals, fine bakery wares such as cookies, biscuits, cereal bars, coffee and coffee substitutes, and baby food. Starting in April, food business operators who produce and place foods in these food categories on the European market must provide evidence that they have taken steps to reduce acrylamide in their production and products. The products must have acrylamide levels lower than the benchmark levels and as low as reasonably achievable (the ALARA principle). More

Potatoes among the top breakfast and brunch foods in the US

Brunch is a top food trend again in 2018 for restaurant goers and home cooks in the US, with the four top breakfast components being eggs, potatoes, bacon and bread. How do consumers want their potatoes prepared for brunch? Breakfast Hash is one of the top five leading trends in breakfast/brunch items on restaurant menus in the United States in 2018. It was also listed as a top five by the National Restaurant Association. Potatoes continue to be a consumer favorite, and brunch is a natural fit, according to Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. “Our Side Delights offer fresh, wholesome potatoes of the highest quality in a full-range of potato types and bag sizes so consumers can make restaurant quality brunch at home – any day of the week, any time of day.” Hot brunch spots are including potatoes on their breakfast pizza, like Maximiliano in Los Angeles which tops theirs with fingerling potatoes, bacon confit, eggs, fennel sausage, pomodoro and mozzarella. More

West Australian farmers have lost millions one year on from tomato potato psyllid outbreak

A man in a blue work shirt and shorts standing in front of pallets of potatoes.Two West Australian farmers say they have each lost more than $1 million and have been forced to downsize their operations in the 12 months since the tomato potato psyllid was discovered near Perth. It has been a year since the Australia-first discovery, which is regarded as one of the most serious bio-security incidents in Western Australia’s horticultural history. A South West potato grower has halved operations and is restructuring his business after being forced to dump more than $1.1m of potatoes that could not leave the state. Responding to the psyllid and making a plan to live with it is expected to cost the State Government more than $3 million. Within days of the pest’s discovery, movement of plants and produce thought to be hosts of the psyllid were restricted within WA and to interstate markets. More

Eat purple potatoes to cut your colon cancer risk, study finds

Purple potatoesEnjoying a diet that includes plenty of vegetables is great for your health, but a daily dose of purple potatoes may help in the prevention colon cancer, according to a new study conducted on pigs. Understanding the compounds found in these foods and how they break down in the digestive tract could be crucial for finding new colon cancer treatments, researchers say. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University found that a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables may prevent or stop colon cancer and bowel inflammatory diseases in pigs. Though the study focused on purple potatoes, the authors say that other colorful vegetables may be just as protective against colon cancer. “For example, white potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant compounds,” says Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences at PSU. “We use the purple potato as a model and hope to investigate how other plants can be used in the future,” he says. More