New Chairman of Belgapom calls for better coordination of potato chain, founding of inter-branch organisation

The annual general meeting of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and processing industry association, has appointed Marc Van Herreweghe as its chairman. He succeeds Marc Seru who in accordance with the articles of association was not available for re-election after two terms of 3 years. Marc Van Herreweghe is the CEO of the family-owned potato processing company Mydibel in Mouscron. Since the beginning of this year, Van Herreweghe is chairman of the executive committee for the Processing section within Belgapom. He pointed to the necessity of the fast-growing potato sector in Belgium to make use of the technological means available to better coordinate the entire potato chain. This can benefit all the links in the chain, he said. The potato sector must more than ever before defend its interests, saying that Belgium has the ideal soil and climate for growing potatoes. Thanks to the development of the potato-processing sector into a leading industrial player in the global agro-food sector, Belgium is faced with numerous new challenges.  Continue reading

Red rescue: USDA helps ease excess red potato supply

Image result for northern plains red potatoesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reportedly purchase $3 million in red potatoes for nutrition assistance programs. National Potato Council Executive Vice-President and CEO John Keeling confirms the purchase, noting that’s the equivalent of 20,000 hundredweight of red potatoes. “We worked with USDA over the past couple of weeks to get them the information about what the real surplus was and then, what would be needed to be removed. And then, what time was remaining to be able to do that because we are getting late. Potatoes have been in storage for a while now.” A few weeks ago, Associated Potato Growers said they will have 50,000 hundredweight of potatoes that need a home. This purchase could help, but there’s still an excess of fresh spuds in the Red River Valley. The red potato issue was brought to Congressman Kevin Cramer’s attention by the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA) of East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  Continue reading

Underhanded down under? Australian wholesaler accused of ‘unfair’ potato contracts

Related imageAustralia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo, is facing legal action after being accused of entering into unfair contracts with its potato farmer suppliers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Tuesday said it had started Federal Court proceedings against the South Australian-based company – the first legal action taken under the recently introduced Horticulture Code. Mitolo, a major supplier to Woolworths and Coles, is facing allegations of unfair contract terms including signing exclusive supply contracts that allow it to vary prices unilaterally and prevent farmers from selling to other buyers. ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said Mitolo’s exclusive contracts also did not specificy how and when the price of potatoes would be determined. “These are some of the most egregious terms we have seen in agricultural contracts, and are key examples of the contracting practices in the sector that we want to address,” Mr Keogh said. Read more

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

‘It takes an industry to identify and solve problems,’ says recipient of World Potato Congress award

Gary Secor, a professor in North Dakota State University’s Plant Pathology Department, is one of three scientists worldwide to receive the 2018 Industry Award from the World Potato Congress. He received the award during the 10th World Potato Congress, which was held last month in Cusco, Peru. During his career, Secor has published information on numerous potato diseases that have had a substantial impact on the industry. He has discovered several new diseases, including the zebra chip. In addition, he has authored more than 91 publications and 12 book chapters, and delivered more than 300 national and 100 international presentations in 21 countries. “It is special to get an award from the industry I have enjoyed working with for 47 years,” he says. “Getting an award like this is not just for one person, but is the result of many people working together and supporting each other – students, technical support, colleagues, staff, allied industry collaborators. It takes an industry to identify and solve problems. This is a great honor for me.” Read more

Spuds in the Box: New initiative from Potatoes USA targets the meal kit market

According to Nielsen, 9% of Americans say they’ve purchased a meal kit in the last six months – that’s 10.5 million households, and 25% of consumers say they would consider trying a meal kit in the next six months – and that’s more than 30 million households! What better potato ingredients to utilize in meal kits than dehydrated formats? Because of their popularity, versatility and cost-efficiency, potatoes are the perfect meal kit ingredient, according to Potatoes USA. To get the word out to this growing market, Potatoes USA recently mailed meal kit inspired materials to 25 leading meal kit companies. The potato filled package included a welcome letter, dehydrated potato product information, meal kit-friendly recipes (each utilizing a different form of dehydrated potatoes) and samples of the ingredients themselves. A logo’d potato friendly spatula and USB drive containing videos of chefs preparing delicious dishes using dehydrated potatoes rounded out the box.  Continue reading

Not so humble anymore: First ever campaign to promote the potato on a global scale gets underway

Image result for "imagine a world without potatoes"Staunch supporters of the humble potato have decided that its high time that consumers across the world have a pause and realize that this tuber, taken so much for granted, may very well hold the key to food security for generations to come. Initiating a first ever global promotions campaign of this nature, the the International Potato Center (CIP) – headquartered in Peru – recently announced the “Imagine a World without Potatoes” campaign, inviting millions of potato consumers around the world to imagine life without the potatoes that they are so used to having around in all its varieties and presentations. The campaign seeks to bring together diverse partners from the global potato sector, be it private companies, trade associations and public research institutes, among others. “It’s a call to action; we’re giving consumers the freedom to use their imagination and draw their own conclusions. Potatoes are an integral part of our lives, they evoke feelings of tradition, home cooked meals, warmth and comfort. The problem is not that potato fails to inspire, but that we take it for granted,” said Marc de Beaufort, Marketing Specialist at CIP. Visit the dedicated website where more information on the campaign can be found:

Old foe, new offspring: What do we know about the new, emerging clones of Phytophthora Infestans in Europe?

In an insightful and important article published earlier this week on the EuroBlight website, late blight expert Dr Jens Gronbech Hansen in Denmark asks: What do we know at this time about the new clones of all potato growers’ arche enemy, Phytophthora Infestans? Hansen says that over the last five years EuroBlight has undertaken and coordinated an extensive survey of European populations of the late blight pathogen, P. infestans. The most recent data from the EuroBlight monitoring initiative highlighted the emergence of three new clonal lineages, named EU_36_A2, EU_37_A2 and EU_41_A2, in different parts of Europe. As ever, this raises the question of the epidemic potential of these newcomers, and of their impact on late blight management strategies. Are those strains more aggressive than other types? Are they less sensitive to fungicides? What cultivars are now under threat? Do I have to change my control strategy? These are the questions farmers and potato advisors are asking. Read the full article on the EuroBlight website

Spud think tank: Roundup of the World Potato Congress event in Peru

World Potato Congress highlights scientific advances Tubers were the talk of the town in Cusco, Peru during the week of May 27, when the 10th World Potato Congress (WPC) and the 28th Congress of the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP) were held together for the first time. The event drew more than 800 participants from 50 countries to the potato’s center of origin for four days of scientific presentations, networking, field trips and celebration of the potato’s cultural and economic importance. The role that potatoes can play in improving the lives and health of the world’s population was a major theme of the gathering. The dozens of presentations at the congress proved that the potato is one of the world’s most diverse crops, with perhaps as much or more undiscovered as known potential. Governments and businesses across the globe view the crop as a way of feeding people nutritionally and affordably, from using resources more efficiently to resisting pest, drought and disease to breeding enhanced health benefits and even the appeal of peel. Cedric Porter, Editor of World Potato Market, wrote a roundup of the research presentations at the Congress in Peru.  Continue reading

Western Australia releases latest update on presence of tomato potato psyllid

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Western Australia (DPIRD WA) has released the latest industry update on the presence of the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) in the state. This update, which is available in English or Vietnamese, contains information on a range of related areas, including the wind-up of the transition to management phase for the response, a snapshot of results from TPP research and development, and reminders about pre-harvest control options and the Quarantine Area currently in place in Western Australia. The TPP research and development profiled in this latest industry update includes laboratory trials on insecticides; laboratory trials on biological control agents (BCAs); glasshouse trials on the efficacy of insecticides with BCAs against TPP in capsicum, tomato and potato; and laboratory trials on post-harvest disinfestation. There continues to be no detection of Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso) in Australia to date. Read more

Rather safe than sorry: Aussies to release Potato Growers’ Biosecurity Manual

The Potato Growers’ Biosecurity Manual is a guide to farm biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of weeds, pests, and diseases impacting production. It was developed by Plant Health Australia (PHA) with consultation from AUSVEG and potato growers across NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The manual is designed for use by potato growers and their staff, as well as contractors, processors, researchers, and consultants working in the potato industry. It gives specific advice on what potato producers need to be aware of, and what measures they should be taking on their farm to reduce biosecurity risks. A broader explanation of Australia’s biosecurity system including pre-border, at-the-border and post-border biosecurity procedures is also provided in the manual. The manual will be released with the upcoming edition of Potatoes Australia magazine. Further information


A matter of trust: US potato industry supports national standard for accurate product labeling

Related imageThe National Potato Council (NPC) in the US joined more than 60 organizations, representing farmers, manufacturers, small businesses and retailers in supporting the Accurate Labels Act, introduced today. “The potato industry strongly supports this common-sense legislation. Consumers should be provided with information they can trust about the products they purchase. Verifiable science based information should be the foundation of these disclosures,” said John Keeling, Executive VP and CEO of the NPC. The legislation will amend the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act to ensure consumers have access to clear, accurate and meaningful product labels; establish science-based criteria for all state and local labeling requirements that exceed current federal standards. Continue reading

US: Northern Plains Potato Growers Association hires new President

The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA) based in East Grand Forks, Minnesota has hired Donavon Johnson to be its new President. Johnson started on June 4th and will be replacing Chuck Gunnerson who is retiring after leading the organization for the past ten years. Johnson brings an extensive background in leading successful businesses and non-profit organizations across the US and internationally, most recently working for the North Dakota Trade Office. NPPGA Chairman of the Board Eric Halverson says he is excited to have Johnson on board. “I believe his collective experience in business, working for the state trade office, and growing up on a potato farm will help him successfully lead the organization.” Halverson added, “I know he will work hard to reach out to the industry to understand, and then tackle the important issues.  No doubt he will build on all of the positive things Chuck is leaving him with.”  Continue reading

World Potato Congress: Potato experts from around the world gather in Peru

More than 800 potato scientists, industry representatives, government officials and other interested parties from 50 countries have gathered in the Andean city of Cusco, Peru for the 10th World Potato Congress (WPC) and the 28th Congress of the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP), held from May 27 to 31. The event, which included ample participation by scientists from the International Potato Center (CIP), has raised the potato’s profile in Peru and beyond by highlighting the crop’s rich biodiversity and its potential for reducing hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The WPC is the most important international event for potato science and business, held in a different country every three years. Researchers and business representatives participating in WPC 2018 and the ALAP Congress have had the opportunity to participate in technical sessions on an array of innovations that include potato variety development and biotechnology, improved pest and disease management, crop management and the importance of potato biodiversity for breeding and nutrition. Read further

Idaho Potato Commission prepares for international sales push

The Idaho Potato Commission has hired Ross Johnson as international marketing director, preparing for an expanded sales push in the U.S. and export markets. Johnson, most recently global marketing manager for retail at Potatoes USA, has also had management positions at Kraft and ConAgra, according to a news release. With consumer research experience from those positions, Johnson will focus on data and category management. “We know international opportunities to drive higher Idaho potato sales are exponential,” Johnson said in the release. “There is a lot of opportunity for international growth and for educating retailers on the importance of the Idaho potato in their produce departments.” Johnson will be based in the commission’s Eagle, Idaho, office, and will work with offices in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Greater China. (Source: The Packer)