Potatoes South Africa’s annual Congress to focus on value chains

Image result for potatoes south africaAccording to Potatoes South Africa, it is of great importance that stakeholders in the food value chain produce that what will satisfy consumers’ tastes and preferences at affordable prices – and that also rings true for the potato industry. Consumers’ tastes and preferences are constantly changing due to a number of factors that include amongst others, changes in household income, trending societal influences and lifestyle changes. The stakeholders in the potato value chain have to listen to consumers in order to understand and pre-empt how consumer tastes and preferences might change over time, and then to re-engineer itself if needed in order to remain relevant. During the upcoming Potatoes South Africa Congress, experts in different potato value chains will share ideas on what is required of the potato industry to remain relevant and grow the demand for potatoes and potato products in South Africa. The Congress will be held on September 28 in teh OR Thambo Hotel in Gauteng province. The theme of the Congress is: Do value chains really matter… And if so, where is the value? Further information on the Potatoes South Africa website.

Potato Europe 2017: Industry members invited to vote online and choose Innovation Award winner

The Potato Europe 2017 event will take place in Emmeloord, The Netherlands, September 13 and 14. The organizers of the event now invite potato industry members around the world to vote for one of the 5 finalists in the Innovation Award competition. The organizers received a total of 26 entries for the Award and the following 5 were chosen as finalists, based on the criteria of innovation, market potential, inventiveness and sustainability:

  • BASF for 1,4SIGHT
  • JASA for 2-in-1Pack
  • Weststrate for MagGrow
  • Solentum for Solgrader
  • Tolsma Grisnich for 5M Temperature Sensor

More information about the innovative products can be found on this page – where you will also be able to cast an online vote. A similar page in Dutch is also available.

Vertical Farming: The farm of the future?

Image result for This Farm of the Future Uses No Soil and 95% Less WaterAs urban populations continue to rise, innovators are looking beyond traditional farming as a way to feed everyone while having less impact on our land and water resources. Vertical farming is one solution that’s been implemented around the world. Vertical farms produce crops in stacked layers, often in controlled environments such as those built by AeroFarms in Newark, New Jersey. AeroFarms grows a variety of leafy salad greens using a process called “aeroponics,” which relies on air and mist. AeroFarms’ crops are grown entirely indoors using a reusable cloth medium made from recycled plastics. In the absence of sun exposure, the company uses LED lights that expose plants to only certain types of spectrum. AeroFarms claims it uses 95% less water than a traditional farm thanks to its specially designed root misting system. And it is now building out a new 70,000 square foot facility in a former steel mill. Once completed, it’s expected to grow 2 million pounds of greens per year, making it the largest indoor vertical farm in the world. Watch video

Canada: Potato research lab shares milestones at open house

Benoit BizimungoBenoit Bizimungu spends about 12 years working on a single type of potato, trying to develop a more resilient crop that requires less fertilizer or chemicals. The research scientist had a chance to share his work with the public Saturday when his workplace, the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, opened its laboratory doors to the public. More than 300 people stopped by the open house to get a peek into the federal facility, which primarily focuses on researching potatoes. Each year, he begins his research in the field with 100,000 potato varieties. He said the volume of work he and his colleagues do surprised some and others were shocked to learn it can take 12 years to create a new potato. “I tell them you have to be patient to truly develop some improved product,” he said. More

Agrico Research niet onder indruk van Solynta’s resistente aardappel

Image result for Agrico Research niet onder indruk van resistente aardappel“Niks nieuws onder de zon”. Dat zegt Agrico Research uit Emmeloord over de ontdekking door Solynta uit Wageningen van een aardappel die resistent is voor de schimmelziekte phytophthora. Agrico, een coöperatie in poot- en consumptieaardappelen, heeft ook aardappels ontwikkeld die resistent zijn. Deze zijn ook al op de markt. Bovendien is de ontwikkeling van een ras met dubbele resistentie bijna klaar. Volgens directeur Sjefke Affels van Agrico Research is het ontwikkelen van resistentie alleen niet genoeg. Een aardappel moet aan zeker 40 andere kenmerken voldoen om op de markt gebracht te worden, zoals smaak, vorm en stevigheid. Solynta meldde ook dat in de toekomst aardappelen worden geteeld met zaad, in plaats van pootaardappelen. Volgens Agrico Research staat de ontwikkeling van aardappelzaad dat pootaardappelen vervangt nog in de kinderschoenen en duurt het nog tientallen jaren voordat het zover is. Meer

Rwanda to set up two new potato processing plants and boost production

1503348130IMG-20170818-WA0002It is said to be a new dawn for Irish potato growers in Rwanda following the signing of a multi-million dollar deal between government and a Nigerian firm to develop the country’s Irish potato value chain. The five-year project worth $120 million (Rwf102 billion) involves the building of two potato processing facilities; one for frozen French fries, and another to produce potato products for the export market. The target is a production capacity of 10 million tonnes of potatoes by the fifth year of the project, officials said. When it starts operations, it will process 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes of potatoes making frozen French fries, and potato flakes and crisps, targeting export markets in Africa and the Middle East, according to Olusegun Paul Andrew, the chairman of BlackPace Africa Group. The potato project will further work to increase the average yield per hectare from 15 to 35 tonnes by the fifth year of operations, officials said. More

Dutch company Solynta claims that it developed blight resistant potato varieties

Foto ANPIt is widely reported in the Dutch press today that potato breeding company Solynta in the Netherlands has developed potato varieties that are resistant to potato late blight (Phytophthora). The varieties will be introduced to the public during a field day held by the company at its premises in Wageningen, the Netherlands later this week (Aug 23). Late blight is responsible for losses to farmers in the order of around € 10 billion worldwide, despite intensive use of pesticides. In the Netherlands, the cost for the almost ninety thousand potato growers is estimated at € 150 million according to figures released by Wageningen University. Phytophthora has thus far being able to evade successful resistance by most commercially produced potato varieties. Solynta’s director, Hein Kruyt, reportedly says his company is capable of breeding potato varieties with multiple disease resistance genes – as many as three, four or even more. He says Solynta has developed late blight resistant potato varieties with a “stable parental line”.  Continue reading

Driverless ‘robo-tractors’ coming soon to Japanese potato and rice fields

Image result for japanese robot-tractorGreying farmers, a rural exodus and low food self-sufficiency have thrust Japan’s biggest agricultural machinery manufacturers into a national race to build a driverless tractor, according to a report by the Financial Times. It is said that the quest to perfect the “robo-tractor” is strongly encouraged by the Japanese government at the highest level, and is viewed as a way to stem the slowdown of Japanese agriculture. The first commercial generation of these tractors is expected to go on sale to many potato, rice and vegetable farmers on the islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu next year – at a cost of about 50% more than the cost of regular tractors. Sometime after 2020, say some of the Japanese companies involved, a rice or potato farmer having to continue working into his 80’s could send his driverless fleet off to plough, sow and harvest a crop from the comfort of his living room. They could even work at night. Recent statistics on fatal accidents in 2015 involving farm machinery showed that nearly 50% involved a farmer over the age of 80. (Source: Financial Times)

What can caterers do to rehabilitate the potato, cash in on its plus points? Advice from leading companies

Bannisters' Farm cheese and bacon-filled potato skins

In an article written for The Caterer, author Anne Bruce writes: “The potato may not enjoy the health kudos of other vegetables, but caterers can turn its enormous versatility and widespread popularity to good account by developing premium products that boost consumer spend. Where would a restaurant be without potatoes? …So what can caterers do to rehabilitate the potato, cash in on its plus points and get maximum value from potato-based products?” Bruce interviewed spokespeople from several leading potato companies in the UK and Ireland on their viewpoints. Nigel Phillips, UK & Ireland country sales manager at potato supplier Lamb Weston, says potatoes are a great host for all sorts of toppings and can benefit from trends such as street food. Mohammed Essa, general manager of Aviko UK & Ireland, says the biggest margins will be made on innovative, premium products that give customers value for money, and something different from what they would eat at home. Convenience remains key to operators when using potatoes, says supplier Farm FritesContinue reading

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

Potato export topics in the spotlight at upcoming seminar in Idaho

Related imageSpudman magazine reports that the Idaho Potato Export Seminar will be held August 30 in Sun Valley as part of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association annual convention. Both events are set for the Sun Valley Inn, with the export seminar running from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Topics will include a global market assessment, field testing processes, phytosanitary requirements, risk mitigation best practices, partnering with logistics and broker companies and managing financial concerns. All growers, shippers and processors are welcome to attend. The seminar will be hosted by the Idaho Potato Commission, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the Idaho State University Research Center.

More potatoes planted in Western European countries

patataAccording to a news story published on the Spanish web site Revista Mercados, a total of 131,640 ha of potatoes were planted in France this year – 5.1% higher than 2016, and the second consecutive year that more potatoes were planted in that country. In 2016 the planted area grew 5.3% compared to 2015 (125,250 ha). The total potato area planted in Belgium was 5.4% more than in 2016, totalling 96,281 hectares – 21.5% more than the five year average. The area under cultivation in Germany has grown by 4.5%, totalling 171,900 hectares; in the Netherlands there was an increase of 4.1%, totalling 75,800 hectares; and in the UK farmers planted 4% more potatoes than last year, amounting to 103,200 hectares. (figures based on data released by the Association of Northern European Potato Producers, NEPG). In Spain the area under ​​potato cultivation in 2016 was 73,196 hectares, 4.4% more than in 2015, according to Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and the Environment. Potatoes worth 146 million euros were imported to Spain from France last year. Spain exported potatoes worth 123 million euros in total in 2016. Read full article in Spanish

Germany: Agrarfrost celebrates 50 years of “passion for potatoes”

Agrarfrost feiert 50 Jahre "Leidenschaft für Kartoffelgenuss" / Geschäftspartner und Vertreter der Politik nahmen an Jubiläumsfeier teil / Christian Wulff, Bundespräsident a.D., hielt Festrede In a pavilion at its headquarters, Agrarfrost, Germany’s largest producer of frozen potato products, celebrated the company’s 50th anniversary. More than 600 guests from Europe, Africa, America and Asia were in attendance. Agrarfrost CEO’s Eike Stöver and Manfred Wulf welcomed amongst other guests the honourable former German President, Christian Wulff. “Our long-standing and reliable partners are of great importance to our family business, whether they be policy makers, associations, our customers and suppliers or potato growers – we can only be successful as a company because of all these good partnerships,” Eike Stöver said in his address. Agrarfrost processes approx. 550,000 tonnes of potatoes per year to produce its frozen potato products. Approximately 200 contract farmers cultivate potatoes on 8,000 hectares to supply Agrarfrost with raw product. Read full article in the German language

Idaho growers report ‘significantly’ lower yields in early harvest

Related imagePotato industry officials report yields are down significantly as Western Idaho growers commence with their early harvest of Russet Norkotahs for the fresh market. Growers statewide anticipate having more average production during their general harvest in a few weeks, as the crop will have time to continue progressing, though they don’t expect to approach last year’s record volumes. They expect tuber quality will vary dramatically from field to field, based on site-specific conditions during a prolonged heatwave this summer. But growers also say they’re optimistic about strengthening prices, given Idaho farmers planted 15,000 fewer potato acres this season and should have a reasonable-sized crop to market. In Eastern Idaho, Ritchie Toevs, president of the Idaho Potato Commission, anticipates his yields will be down by about 60 hundredweight per acre from last season. Capital Press report