US: RPE to feature new product innovations at Fresh Summit

What’s new in the fresh potato category? From RPE, Inc. a new potato item, a unique approach for commodity product and fresh innovations that add value for both consumers and retailers alike. New featured item: SteamPak Mini™, for the health conscious and on-the-go consumer, is a single-serve package of fresh potatoes. Microwaving in four minutes for a great snack or side dish, SteamPak Mini has no additives and addresses a trend toward smaller pack sizes and a desire from consumers to reduce food waste. Unique approach for commodity product: Old Oak Farms® Party Potatoes, offered exclusively by RPE, are fingerling potatoes re-imagined with precise size specifications. RPE will also highlight Tasteful Selections Steam & Savor™ steamable bags featuring Organic Mini Sweet Potatoes, and White Russet® brand potatoes. More

National Potato Day in Ireland: Consumers urged to choose Irish potatoes

PotatoNational Potato Day takes place in Ireland today, Friday, October 6. IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) President Joe Healy has called on consumers and retailers to support the Irish potato sector. “It is a very important indigenous industry worth €85 million at farm gate, with 500 growers planting almost 9,000ha annually,” he said. IFA Potato Committee Chairman Eddie Doyle insisted: “Retailers recognise and respect the massive investments potato growers have made in machinery and cold storage, to ensure a continuous 12-month supply of Irish product. The chairman urged consumers to choose Irish potatoes ahead of other imported produce – in addition to making a healthy food choice they would also be supporting vital jobs in the rural economy, he said. Doyle also asked that the hotel and catering sectors ensure that their suppliers are sourcing Irish produce. More

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

Belgium aims to export more frozen potato fries to Malaysia

According to a report by New Straits Times, Belgium hopes to ship in more frozen potato fries to Malaysia, collaborating with restaurateurs and fast food operators in the country. “Belgian chocolates are famous all over the world. Today, we’re seeking to promote Belgian fries here,” said Belgapom secretary general Romain Cools. Belgapom is the association for the Belgian potato trade and processing industry which promotes exports of 4.4 million tonnes of potatoes a year. “Malaysia is a fast growing market for Belgian potatoes,” he told reporters at a media conference and cooking demo at the Food & Hotel Malaysia 2017 event held in Kuala Lumpur today. “We seek to increase our market share here for potato fries. Belgian fries is in third placing here as most of the potato fries served at fast food restaurants are being imported from Northern America and the Netherlands,” he added.  Continue reading

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

Big issues coming home to roost for Ireland’s potato growers

If you ever venture over to Eastern Europe, you will find that when the good citizens there are looking for a quality starch food to go with their meat and vegetables, they don’t talk about the potato, but reach for the ‘Irish potato’. This is an example of the strong relationship we as a nation have to this basic of foodstuffs. You would think that with this strong relationship, at the very least, we would have a supply chain of potatoes that would be at least comprehensive, if not vibrant and progressive. Alas this is far from the case. The potato industry in Ireland is anything but vibrant, most of it isn’t even Irish. Any review of the potato industry (and there has been no shortage of them) inevitably blames the reduction in potato consumption on the rise of ‘pasta and rice’ and ‘hectic lifestyles’. These conclusions are usually accompanied by calls for more marketing and further reviews. More

Upcoming industry event in the Netherlands is important for Scots potato export market

Scottish potato exports are worth millions to the economy. Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesIn recent years exports of seed potatoes from Scotland have gradually increased to the point where they are now worth millions of pounds to the economy. With a view to further promoting this trade, British potato exporters will next week attend the Potato Europe event in Emmelord, Holland. With more than 250 exhibitors and 15,000 visitors from around the world, Potato Europe is seen as a key marketplace for the GB potato sector. Among the companies and organisations exhibiting this year are Greenvale AP, Caithness Potatoes, Cygnet PEP, James Hutton, Cullen Allen and SASA. Niall Arbuckle from Greenvale AP said the show was the ideal venue for striking deals with key clients in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Jordan. The AHDB Export Team’s Rob Burns said he would be pushing the benefits of GB’s high health seed potato sector. “We are looking to increase our exports in a number of areas including Russia, the Middle East and Brazil and the show offers us the chance to continue discussions with these target markets.” More

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)

Texas potato researcher plans to pack more value into the crop

Texas potato growers may be few in number, but their spuds hit a market window that brings a premium each year at harvest. Now, a new potato scientist for Texas A&M AgriLife Research plans to pack even more value into the commodity through traditional and molecular breeding. Upon arriving in Texas last January, Dr. Isabel Vales was quick to put down roots both in her greenhouses near the Texas A&M University campus in College Station and hundreds of miles away where potatoes are grown in the northwestern part of the state. Vales said she is nearing a point of developing a plan to help take Texas potato farmers to the next level of production and market efficiency. Vales said consumers also will play a role in her plans, because of their desire for traits such as healthy components and a trendy preference for smaller potatoes.  Continue reading

Smell is an important part of snacking, study finds

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Smelling McCain’s jacket potatoes at a bus shelter…

Aroma is an essential component of the snacking experience for millennials, and many want their food products to immediately emanate the smell of their central flavors, according to a recent survey published in Bakery and Snacks. The survey included 1,000 male and female participants from the U.K., Germany, France, Spain and Poland. Food and beverage manufacturers have long known that consumers eat with all five senses. Pringles performed an experiment where they played the sound of different chips crunching for consumers. The brand determined that the sound a chip makes when broken was a strong indicator of whether it was stale or fresh. Pringles used that feedback to modify its chips’ texture, as well as its packaging and marketing campaigns, to reinforce the sound of fresh chips. Food manufacturers such as McCain Food have also leveraged product aroma in order to create multi-sensory experiences for their consumers. Continue reading

Sweden: Good potato crop expected; consumers view potatoes as healthy

Related imageAlthough some areas are more affected than others, Lars Elofson of Svensk Potatis says that generally there was not much damage to potato crops in Sweden due to the cold weather during April / May. Most of the Swedish potato production, around 40%, takes place in the southern region of Skane. According to Elofson, potatoes are of good quality and growers are at present not expecting any serious problems to show up this season. Soloist is the most common early variety planted in Sweden, followed by other popular varieties later in the season, such as Magda and Rocket. “Organic production is still growing in Sweden, and I expect that this season it will increase by 3-5%,” Lars mentions. Continue reading

Scottish potato seed exporters set to increase tonnage to Brazil and Kenya

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Scottish seed potatoes

Government representatives from Scotland and Brazil met in July to simplify the import classification requirements for seed potatoes. The game-changing meeting was organised and funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). Brazil produces circa 3.6m tonnes of potatoes a year according to UN figures, however in terms of productivity yields are only two thirds of what is achieved by UK growers. Rob Burns, Head of Crops Export Market Development at AHDB said: “British seed potatoes are rightly renowned across the world. Not only for high health and high quality, but also for diversity, we have a great range of varieties which thrive in a range of conditions, be it damper cooler climates such as the UK, or warmer environments.” This agreement could set the path for a significant increase in the tonnage of British seed exported to Brazil, which is likely to help increase yields for the growers that plant them.Representatives from both countries will meet again in January to finalise discussions on removing requirement for disease testing on GB seed potatoes entering Brazil. Continue reading

Embattled West Australian potato growers eye Egypt as potential new market after TPP hardship

Kon Peos stands in front of a row of potato cratesSeed potato exports to Egypt are being flagged as a new opportunity for West Australian (WA) potato producers hit by tomato potato psyllid trade restrictions. The Potato Growers Association of Western Australia was set to receive $60,000 in State Government funding, chief executive Simon Moltoni said. The money would be used to build up trade relations between the two countries. This would be met with a $40,000 contribution from the association, Mr Moltoni said. He said the potential market in Egypt was the same size as the whole WA seed potato industry and could provide huge growth potential. “The size of this market is 10,000 tonne. It is bigger than just the effect the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) has had and it will give growers an option if they choose to participate. There are three international exporters of seed potato in WA — WA Elite Seed, Southern Packers and Lake Jasper seed potatoes. Mr Moltoni said they would all be crucial to the early stages of any trade deals. More