US: Diverse approaches in store for 2017 Wisconsin spud promotions

Joe-PavelskiThe 2017 promotional program of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association is taking a variety of approaches. Dana Rady, director of promotion and consumer education for the association, described the various components of the effort. The promotion includes a Wisconsin potato display contest, tying in health with an NHL player from Wisconsin, a television grilling show episode and a children’s health promotion. A television advertising campaign ran during the Green Bay Packers’ preseason broadcasts. The commercials involved Joe Pavelski, a hockey player for the San Jose Sharks, who is a native of Plover, WI. The ad, which targeted Wisconsin’s buy local market, showcased how “Potatoes Power Performance” through complex carbohydrates, high levels of vitamins and minerals and their heart-healthy attributes. More

US: Food service professionals tour Idaho potato harvest

Kevin Stanger, with Wada Farms in Pingree, Idaho, leads food service professionals on a tour of his facility. The tour was sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission.Twice each week, Egan Click, with Sysco Corp. in Chicago, inspects 100,000-pound rail loads of Idaho potatoes to make certain they meet customers’ size and quality specifications. But Click acknowledges that prior to participating in an Idaho Potato Commission-sponsored harvest tour, he didn’t fully appreciate the “unbelievable” process Idaho growers, packers and shippers follow to meet the standards associated with their state’s seal. Click was among the 28 professionals within the growing food service category IPC included in a Sept. 26-29 tour. Participants representing major potato markets such as Illinois, California, Texas and New York toured potato harvest, a fresh packing operation, a dehydrated potato plant and a frozen potato processing plant. Don Odiorne, IPC’s vice president of food service, said the food service professionals head home with photographs and stories about Idaho potato production to share with their staffs and may become “brand advocates.” More

Potatoes USA calls for communication on upcoming research efforts

Related imageAhead of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) publishing its fiscal year 2018 request for pre-applications, two industry leaders are calling for those in the research community to publish their plans to seek funding from the SCRI. In a letter, Chairman of the Potato Research Advisory Committee Steve Gangwish and Director of Research at Potatoes USA Ryan Krabill urged those in the potato research community to alert the industry of pending SCRI proposals or plans for an SCRI proposal. They wrote that there is an effort currently underway to develop the foundation for a soil health proposal specific to the potato industry, likely through SCRI. “Soil health is a top priority for the potato industry,” the letter read. “Those of you who are interested in being a part of that discussion are encouraged to let us know directly so that we can ensure that your interest is properly accounted for.” More

North America: Potato Sustainability Initiative seeking an Executive Director to lead the partnership

Image result for Potato Sustainability InitiativeThe Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) in North America is seeking an Executive Director to support its growing programs into the future. Started by the National Potato Council, the Canadian Horticultural Council and a host of potato buyers, processors and growers in 2010, PSI now involves more than 500 growers, McDonald’s, Sysco, the National Potato Council, the Canadian Horticulture Council, Basic American Foods, Cavendish, Kraft Heinz, McCain Foods, Lamb Weston, Simplot and the IPM Institute of North America. PSI has developed both outcome and practice based sustainability metrics that allow growers to measure and report to supply chain partners improvements in the sustainability of their operations over time. For more information, please visit the PSI website.

Potatoes South Australia wins grant to develop vodka from waste potato peelings

In an effort to combat food waste, Potatoes South Australia has teamed up with the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Hills Distillery to make vodka from potato skins. Robbie Davis, chief executive officer of Potatoes SA, said at a national level, food loss in the agricultural industry — pre farm gate — was $3 billion annually. “But the horticulture component of that is $1.8 billion dollars annually, and potatoes are the biggest contributor,” she said. Potatoes South Australia received $30,000 for the project from the State Government. Ms Davis said although whole potatoes were already used to make vodka, they hoped to determine if a premium SA spirit could be made using only waste potato peel. “Having gone to lots of processing plants — what is happening to the skins? Why shouldn’t we try and use them for something?” she said. “The potential is just phenomenal. We want to do a comparison between different varieties of potatoes and their skins, and we will also do a comparison with whole potatoes.” More

First female grower appointed as Idaho Potato Commissioner

First female grower appointed as Idaho Potato CommissionerThe Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) announced Mary Hasenoehrl of Gross Farms as the first female to represent potato growers. “I’m looking forward to working with Mary who has a long and impressive background in farming and agriculture,” stated Frank Muir, President & CEO, IPC. “I have no doubt her perspective and experience will help us as we build impactful marketing programs to reach our primary target audience, women ages 25-54.” Randy Hardy of Hardy Farms and Nick Blanksma of Legacy Farms were also sworn in to serve second three-year terms at the 2017 Idaho Grower Shippers Association meeting in Sun Valley. Nine Commissioners represent the Idaho® potato growers, shippers and processors. They are nominated by industry peers and selected by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. More

No justification for China extending potato starch duties, says Starch Europe

© iStock/Goldfinch4everOn Friday (15 September), the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) confirmed its final decision to extend anti-subsidy duties on exports of EU-manufactured potato starch for another five years. The policy notification published on the Ministry’s Chinese language website, confirmed duties ranging from 7.5% to 12.4%. These duties have been in place since 2010, a response to the EU potato starch support scheme which provided subsidies to manufacturers. However, this EU support scheme came to an end in July 2012 – according to trade association Starch Europe, which means the anti-subsidy duties are no longer warranted. The association, which represents the interests of 95% of European starch suppliers, said in a statement it was disappointed by the decision that fails to be supported by hard facts and figures and sound justification. More

Great British Menu chef to promote Northern Irish spuds

Potato producers in Northern Ireland have recruited Great British Menu contestant Mark Abbott to help grow sales through the industry’s Mighty Spud campaign. The initiative, launched last year to encourage more consumers to buy and cook potatoes, is led by the Northern Ireland Potato Promotion Group, which represents the local industry. The chef said: “The Mighty Spud is a great example of an innovative industry campaign which supports growth, awareness and a continued contribution to Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.” Abbott, who is head chef at the two Michelin star Midsummer House in Cambridge, will be presenting his creations at a special event hosted by award-winning chef Michael Deane in his Michelin star restaurant in Belfast. The Mighty Spud event in Belfast is part of a programme of activities being held to increase awareness of local potatoes. More

A look to the future of the Potato: 10th World Potato Congress event to be held in Cusco, Peru

For the first time, the World Potato Congress (WPC) and the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP) will come together in the historic city of Cusco, Peru, from 27th to 31st of May 2018. According to WPC President and CEO, David Thompson, the two oganizations have agreed to stage a dual congress that will benefit the potato industry in South America and globally. The event is themed A look to the future of the Potato. It will showcase and celebrate the Andean origins of the potato. The WPC is held every three years and organized by the not-for-profit World Potato Congress Inc., dedicated to supporting the cultivation and development of potato around the world. This 10th WPC will mark the first time the event will be held in Latin America. Previous congresses were held in North America, Europe, South Africa, China, and New Zealand. The 10th World Potato Congress (WPC) and the XXVIII Latin American Potato Association (ALAP) Congress is the industry’s most important scientific and business event worldwide.  Continue reading

Idaho Potato Commission details upcoming marketing initiatives

IMG 9884At the annual Idaho Grower Shipper Association convention, held Aug. 30-Sept. 1, the Idaho Potato Commission reviewed its marketing initiatives and laid out plans for the upcoming year. IPC President Frank Muir took the dais at the Aug. 31 industry breakfast, detailing past successes the commission has experienced. Among those were standing up to the trendy low-carb diets that took aim squarely at potatoes a decade ago, and more recently combating the locavore movement. But perhaps the crown jewel of the IPC’s marketing campaign has been the Big Idaho Potato Truck tour, which has a giant replica of an Idaho russet traversing the country, raising both awareness of Idaho potatoes and money for charities. The “Grown in Idaho” seal that appears on packages of fresh Idaho potatoes will make a debut on the frozen side, said Muir, who announced that Lamb Wesson will launch a frozen retail line bearing that seal. Muir said the development is the culmination of an eight- to 10-year project. 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)

US: National Potato Council awards Academic Scholarship for Potato Research

National Potato Council awards scholarship to Adrienne Gorny for nematode researchThe National Potato Council (NPC) last week announced that Adrienne Gorny, a fourth-year doctoral student in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University, is the recipient of the 2017-2018 NPC Academic Scholarship. The $10,000 award is provided annually to a graduate student with a strong interest in research that can directly benefit the potato industry. Gorny’s work focuses on the quantitative epidemiology of Northern root-knot and lesion nematodes in potatoes. Her research is squarely focused on helping the potato industry make informed decisions about nematode control measures. Gorny wants to quantify yield loss due to nematodes by measuring pre-plant density of the nematode population. “What’s really cool is that I’m measuring the DNA of nematodes in the soil, extracting DNA from soil and measuring bar code regions. It is faster than the traditional method and potentially more accurate” she explained. More

UK: Promising weed-control alternative to fill gap when linuron is withdrawn

According to an AHDB press release issued today, early results from a four-year crop protection research project in the UK have identified metobromuron as having potential to fill the gap that will be left for many vegetable growers when the herbicide linuron is withdrawn from use in June 2018. Linuron has been a mainstay of potato production for the past 25 years, with 65% of ware crops receiving treatment according the 2014 Pesticide Usage Survey. Metobromuron is being tested to increase understanding of its use and performance as part of AHDB Horticulture-funded SCEPTREplus trials. Growers invited to view the trials in the summer also identified five further herbicide treatments that were considered acceptable with regard to crop safety and will now be taken forward for further testing.  Continue reading

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 the 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.

Bologna potato group attacks EU-Canada deal

In a report published by Fruitnet, it is said that the Bologna PDO Potato Consortium has joined a chorus of voices in Italy protesting against the country’s imminent ratification of the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), a deal between the EU and Canada that is designed to eliminate the vast majority of trade tariffs between the two. According to the group, which was founded in the beginning of this year, the agreement opens the door to “agri-food piracy” and will harm the commercial prospects of Bologna’s potato producers and their place-of-origin trademarks. “CETA doesn’t provide any protection in the Canadian market to around 250 of the 291 PDO and PGI geographical indications recognised by the EU, and to only 12 of the 44 PDO and PGI products from Emilia-Romagna,” explained consortium president Alberto Zambon, who argued that the agreement also allowed marketers too much freedom to translate the names of other non-certified Italian products in any way they chose. Continue reading