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

McCain considering to build new potato processing plant in Idaho

Related imageMcCain Foods USA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of frozen potato products, is considering building a facility in Caldwell, Idaho, USA, and bringing as many as 544 jobs to the area. The company received approval Monday night for $400,000 in grants from the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency. McCain Foods is considering a 17-acre property to build a proposed 164,000-square-foot facility, four times the size of Caldwell’s Walmart Neighborhood Market. The project, also known as “Project Russell,” is contingent upon the business’s final decision on a location, as the company is considering another property in Washington State. “It has been narrowed down to two sites, and the Caldwell site looks very promising,”  Caldwell Economic Development Director Steve Fultz told the Idaho Press. If the company decides on the Caldwell location, the project would begin this September, Fultz said. McCain is also expanding in Burley, Idaho. Read more

Spotting airborne foes: Novel spore trap designed to detect and identify key crop pathogens

Image result for Burkard Manufacturing spore trapAn automated spore trap has been developed by researchers and industry partners in the UK which is said to have to potential to “revolutionise disease monitoring in agricultural crops.” The device, which was developed as part of an AHDB project led by Rothamsted Research, provides near real-time information on the presence of airborne spores and could potentially help farmers target fungicide applications better. Several DNA-based methods to detect airborne spores of key crop pathogens were also developed or improved in the project. The ‘DNA auto spore trap’, which was developed with the Burkard Manufacturing Company, is mains-powered and can issue regular alerts on the presence of spores that could affect nearby broad-acre crops. Once collected, spores are disrupted to release DNA for identification by a series of ‘in-trap’ laboratory tests. Results are then sent wirelessly to a server, thanks to an internal 4G router. Tests for pathogens which are of importance in potatoes are Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (stem rot, also known as white mold), and Alternaria solani (early blight). A spokesperson at AHDB told Potato News Today that a trap designed specifically for late blight detection is in the works. Read more. Further information is also available in AHDB Final Project Report 594.

Field walks and open days: British potato farmers invited to come get the boots dirty in demonstration fields

AHDB Potatoes in the UK will be hosting several events during the coming weeks when growers will be able to see the practical results of dedicated potato research work in real life and how it pans out in growers’ fields. Strategic Farm West Field Walk will be hosted on 28 June. With their first year under their belt, Farm Manager, Matthew Wallace will be providing a fresh focus on research carried out at Heal Farms in Shropshire last season. This year the focus is on PCN and nematicides. SPot East Open Day will take place at Elveden Farm Estate, London Road, Thetford on 5 July. Several topics will be on the agenda, including presentations by Mark Stalham (NIAB CUF) on nitrogen and black dot, and David Firman on sulphur and seed storage. SPot Scotland Summer Open Day will take place on 10 July, when growers will be able to see several demonstrations underway – cultivations, nutrition, seed spacing, cover crops, Precisio and more. Further details on upcoming events

Hutton hits indicate blight risk is building in Britain

David WilsonPotato crops in Britain are under increasing blight pressure, with repeated hits of Hutton Criteria that indicate infection risks. The Hutton Criteria has now largely replaced conventional Smith periods, since blight outbreaks were still occurring even when a Smith Period had not been triggered, reports Syngenta eastern counties potato specialist, David Wilson. “This season BlightCast disease risk forecasting has already repeatedly triggered Hutton Criteria warnings, particularly in hot, humid thundery weather with localised downpours,” he warned. Hutton Criteria is believed to better reflect conditions where new strains of blight can actively develop, by reducing the period of relative humidity at 90 per cent or above down to six hours, from an eleven hour period used to trigger a Smith Period. Mr Wilson pointed out experience at the Eurofins trials site in Derbyshire last year demonstrated the effectiveness of new Hutton Criteria in forewarning blight outbreaks. Read more

World Potato Congress: Abstract Book now available online

Related imageThe Abstract Book, containing abstracts of presentations delivered in May during the 10th World Potato Congress in Cuzco, Peru has been published online, and can now be downloaded as a pdf file from the World Potato Congress Inc website. In the Preface to the 168 page Abstract Book it is said that the themes “Biodiversity, Food Security and Business” represent what Peru, as the host country and the most important center of origin of the potato, can show and share with the world. In this Congress, Peru and other Latin American countries showcased their great potential from a scientific point of view, where biodiversity, and its relationship with the development of new varieties, nutrition and health, represents a valuable and still unexploited treasure for the world. The Congress also highlighted the great contribution of the different improved and native potato varieties to global food security, the development of pest and disease management technologies, and more. Download the Abstract Book

Spain: New potato prices remain high in the domestic market

Related imageThe Spanish potato campaign started in late May with the harvest of the first new potatoes from Seville. Frequent rains in the winter and spring not only caused a delay of about a month in the harvest of the first new potatoes, but also resulted in a 40% drop in the volume. “The acreage devoted to ​​potato cultivation has been reduced by around 20% this year. If we take into account that the yields have been 30% lower in general in Seville, the volumes should drop by around 40%,” said José Peláez Izquierdo, manager of Sevillana de Patatas. As a consequence of this and the slow development of the harvest (due to the unusual mild temperatures recorded at this time of the year), the producer and exporter says that “the demand has so far been greater than the supply, with high and generally stable prices. While prices have fallen a little this past week, it has been a very slight drop compared to previous years.” Unlike in the domestic market, prices for potatoes for export are under pressure and there is a falling trend. Read more

Idaho potato growers optimistic about season

Idaho potato growers are optimistic about the season ahead, given the ideal growing conditions the state has experienced. “Harvest is expected to commence in Idaho in the middle of July,” said Colin Gibson of 20/20 Produce Sales. “The western part of the state will begin first as they have more heat units than the eastern part and therefore growers plant earlier. They are usually about three to four weeks ahead of eastern Idaho.” Gibson noted that weather conditions have been very favorable, with temperate conditions and just a moderate amount of rain. “We estimate that there may be an increase in acreage this year,” Gibson continued. “It’s approaching the time of year when potato supplies start to be limited. Last season’s crop has almost been exhausted, and the market is waiting for new supplies to replenish stocks. As a result, prices have climbed in recent months and are set to increase further before the harvest begins.” In Idaho, there has been an increased interest among growers to favor the Norkotah potato at the expense of the Burbank. Read more


Potato store management is ‘a complex process,’ says author of new guide for store managers

Related imageA digital version of the Third Edition of the Store Manager’s Guide is now available and can be downloaded as a pdf file from the AHDB Potatoes website in the UK (a print version will be available in autumn 2018). The Guide was written by Adrian Cunnington, Head of Crop Storage Research at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research. Cunnington writes in the introduction to the Guide that potato storage is a key element of modern-day potato production, looking to fulfill the demands of many markets. “It can be practised successfully, but it must also be acknowledged that storage poses a risk. Its success depends on how well that risk is managed and, ultimately, whether the customer for the crop in question is delivered the quality for which they are prepared to pay.” Store management is a complex process, he says. The 48 page easy-read Guide contains new simplified checklists, updated data and graphs, and links to key tools: storage cost calculator and Farmbench. Download here

Low-carb gold: ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign the winner of PMA Australia-New Zealand award

Related imageProduce Plus and PMA Australia-New Zealand are pleased to announce the T&G Global Marketing Team as the winner of the Marketer of the Year Award 2018 for the ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign. The New Zealand-headquartered company was presented with Australasia’s premier marketing award for the fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industries at the Hort Connections conference and trade show in Brisbane. The presentation took place during the event’s Gala Dinner on Wednesday, 20 June. The Lotatoes Potatoes campaign centred around the launch of a new low-carb and low-calorie potato variety. Having observed a consumer trend moving away from high-carbohydrate options among health-conscious consumers in New Zealand, T&G Global specifically sought the low-carb potato variety from its breeding partners. Extensive testing against two of New Zealand’s most common varieties (Rua and Agria) found Lotatoes to be a unique 40 per cent lower carbohydrate product that met the functional and health needs of its target audience. Read more

Now available: 2018 World Potato Markets Review

Image result for World Potato Markets Trade & Market ReviewThe 2018 World Potato Markets Trade & Market Review publication is now available. In its seventh year, the review is a unique and valuable resource for potato professionals across the world, containing production estimates for key potato producing countries, a league table of potato producers and extensive trade data for all key potato products. Included in this year’s issue are: European and North American 2018 area projections; output, yield and price projections for 2018; a full annual review of ware, fry, seed, flake, flour, dehy, sweet potato and frozen potato trade by volume, value and price; an exclusive guide to the world’s potato processors. Discounts are available for members of recognised European, American or other potato organisations. Contact the Editor Cedric Porter in the UK for more information: +44 1892 543444,

Great potato, good times: Idaho is building a better Big Potato

20180618_potato_mw_55.jpgSharolyn Schofield has to get the color of a potato just right. It’s no easy thing. You can’t go to the paint counter at the hardware store and say, “Give me five gallons of potato.” Paint scanners can’t match the color of a potato skin. So Sharolyn blends brown and yellow and black and white and red, and her final coats lighten and shade the Big Idaho Potato to burbank russet verisimilitude. And it does look lifelike… “That’s our job,” says Sharolyn, “to make it look as real as possible.” To say that Sharolyn and her husband Chris Schofield are the world’s top big potato experts is no overstatement. They have built two for the New Year’s Idaho Potato Drop and now two for the Potato Commission. The latest – a four-ton potato – will begin touring the nation Saturday, the star of the Potato Commission’s multi-million dollar promotion effort that will take it to 70 events this year. Since fall, Idaho’s new Big Idaho Potato has been Schofield Designs’ full-time job. The Weiser artists/fabricators have put their other custom art work aside for the new and improved potato. Read more

Research in action: PCN advisory tool under scrutiny

Four potato varieties not known to be resistant to white potato cyst nematode (Globodera pallida) have given much better yields than eight others in the first year of a two-season SARIC-funded research project in the UK. The latest work aims to improve AHDB’s potato cyst nematode population advisory tool (, explains Matthew Back, of Harper Adams University. “We’re working with the University of Leeds and Barworth Agriculture to overcome issues which relate to the accuracy of yield benefits from chemical control and tolerance values,” he says. Five of the top 10 UK varieties are missing from the PCN calculator, notes colleague William Watts. They are Markies, Melody, Nectar, Royal and Taurus. “New management practices such as trap cropping and biofumigation aren’t yet built into it,” he adds. Field experiments on PCN-infested land were carried out last season on the top 10 most widely grown varieties plus two PCN-tolerant varieties – Cara and Maris Piper. Read more

Plants in the bag: PepsiCo India to launch plant-based packaging for Lay’s chips

Image result for lays indiaRising concerns around plastic pollution have compelled FMCG companies to rethink their packaging solutions. Food and beverage major PepsiCo, for instance, announced it will launch the first-ever 100% compostable, plant-based packaging for Lay’s and Kurkure snacks products, this year. “As a responsible leader in the food and beverage industry, our Performance with Purpose 2025 goal is to design all packaging to be recoverable or recyclable, and supports increased recycling of plastic waste,” said Ahmed ElSheikh, president & CEO at PepsiCo India. “India will be among the first countries to pilot this new, sustainable packaging solution developed by PepsiCo.” Kraft Heinz had no comment when TheStreet asked for their response. Mondelez responded by saying it does not comment on rumors or speculation. PepsiCo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheStreet. Read more

Wall Street rumor: Will Kraft Heinz buy Pepsico?

Image result for ore ida potatoKraft Heinz Co., producer of Ore-Ida American brand of potato-based frozen foods, is hungry for a big deal, but can it stomach a fight? “Based on how quickly they walked away from Unilever last year,” Morningstar analyst Erin Lash told TheStreet on Monday, June 18, “they don’t seem to want to be involved in a hostile takeover.” In Feb. 2017, Kraft Heinz approached Unilever NV with a $143 billion bid. Yet when Unilever’s board and management team opposed it, Kraft Heinz promptly abandoned its plans. “We believe Kraft Heinz will lead the industry in consolidation,” Stifel analyst Chrisopher Growe wrote in a note on Monday, June 18, “and while this opportunity has come and gone in some investors’ eyes, we still see the opportunity for a large-scale, transformational acquisition…” PepsiCo’s, parent company of potato snack maker Frito-Lay, is committed to returning cash to investors, “while balancing ongoing investments in research and development and advertising and market,” wrote Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog. Read more