Ireland’s Meade family ‘gleaning’ up to keep sustainability at the core

Meade Potato Company in Ireland won on the double at the recent Food and Drink Business Awards, taking home the ‘Fresh Produce Company of the Year’ and ‘Sustainable Factory of the Year’ awards. The family firm’s Robert Devlin and Eleanor Meade rushed to the awards ceremony on Wednesday evening, September 5, after a busy afternoon spent ‘gleaning’, a joint initiative with FoodCloud community foodbank and Lidl Ireland corporate social responsibility (CSR) volunteers. ‘Gleaning’ is the collecting of produce that has been left behind in the field after the harvesting has been done, according to Jeni Meade, marketing communications manager at Meade Potato Company. It is a word that crops up in the bible in the context of asking that the ‘gleanings’ of a field be given to the needy.  “‘Gleaning’ is currently very popular in the US and UK but has yet to become that widespread in Ireland,” she says. Read more

Bord Bia gears up for Ireland’s National Potato Day 2018

Spuds up: Bord Bia gears up for National Potato Day 2018Bord Bia has announced the details of this year’s National Potato Day which takes place on Friday, October 5. The annual celebration honours Ireland’s most loved crop and encourages consumers to recognise its nutritional value and experiment with new and exciting recipes. This year Bord Bia is asking people to “Imagine a world without potatoes?” Tying in with a global campaign theme which highlights the importance and value of the worlds third most important food crop  – which places after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption. On the day, a range of events, talks and promotional activity will take place around the country to celebrate Ireland’s champion vegetable. Read more

International potato sales highest ever for the United States

Image result for potatoes usaAccording to a press release issued by Potatoes USA today, the value of total U.S. exports of potatoes and potato products increased by 2.37% for the July 2017 – June 2018 marketing year compared to the previous marketing year. The $1.8 billion in international potato sales is the highest ever for the United States. The biggest gain came in fresh exports up 8.5%, with dehy up 6% and frozen up 1.8%. The only decline was a drop of 4% in the value of chip exports. However, the fresh weight equivalent volume of exports declined by 0.86% to 3,246,830 metric tons or 71.6 billion hundredweight. This represents approximately 20% of total U.S. potato production for the marketing year. The only products to show export volume increases were dehydrated potatoes up 2% and seed potatoes also up 2%.  Continue reading

Unfair trade practices by Canada blamed for rise of potato imports to the US

Related imageThe latest numbers show that potato imports to the U.S. continue to rise. That’s according to numbers from Trade Stats Northwest. The largest source of fresh imports continues to be Canada. Growers in the Red River Valley argue that continued growth may be the result of unfair trade practices put in place by the Canadian government, and they want U.S. lawmakers to begin thinking about a response. “We’re looking for fair and equitable trade. We’re pro-trade but we want it to be fair for all parties,” said Northern Plains Potato Growers Association President Donavon Johnson. One of those policies is called a “ministerial exception.” Canadian buyers cannot purchase U.S. potatoes until all Canadian fresh potato inventory is exhausted. Johnson said they asked for a similar policy to possibly be put in place in the U.S. Johnson said the NPPGA’s initial research indicates that Canada growers and shippers, with the help of their government, are increasing fresh potato production for the purpose of increasing exports. Read Spudman article

Potatoes USA change the spud story as new ‘fuel for athletes’

Potatoes are no longer just those beige, lumpy things you were served up as a kid. A new marketing campaign focusing on real science is attempting to change the spud story by billing it as a vital ingredient to your workout/diet plan and a fuel for athletes. Potatoes USA, an organization for America’s 2,500 commercial potato growers, teamed up with Sterling Rice Group (SRG) to develop a series of short digital spots touting the tagline: “Potatoes. Real Food. Real Performance.” “The potato undeniably works in the athlete’s favor,” said Blair Richardson, Potatoes USA president and CEO. “The message is clear: If potatoes can fuel elite athletes, they can fuel your active life, too.” The brand has conducted extensive research on the benefits of potatoes and found that most people don’t consider it a performance food and are surprised to learn of its nutritional benefits. Read more

Walmart helps Idaho tackle cause of rejected potato loads

igsa18-karst-08-Mike-ThorntonUniversity of Idaho researchers are working with Walmart to look at the reasons behind rejected or downgraded potato loads at the chain’s distribution centers. Nora Olsen, professor and extension specialist at the University of Idaho, and Mike Thornton, professor of plant science at the university, explained their efforts in a Aug. 29 session at the Idaho Grower Shippers Association annual meeting. Thornton said the research began about a year and a half ago when the Idaho Potato Commission inquired how the industry could reduce quality issues on arrival. Large retailers, including Walmart, indicate that quality problems tend to happen when shippers switch from russet norkotahs to russet burbanks and when growers transition from old crop to new crop potatoes, he said. Finding solutions is important not only to reduce rejections but to also deliver better quality potatoes to consumers who may see bruising when they take potatoes home from the store, Thornton said. Read more

Potatoes fight back: Despite recent reports to the contrary, British consumers still love potatoes

Related imageThis week, media reports surfaced that ‘potato consumption is down 5%’. This is simply not the case, says industry organization AHDB Potatoes. The latest figures from Kantar WorldPanel, which covers data from all retailers, shows a 2.6% rise in consumption of potatoes since 2015, the organization says. Kantar data also shows a successive year-on-year increase since 2015 in frequency of purchase among younger consumers (22-44 year olds). One positive from the ‘news’ that potato sales are ‘down’ was that many people rushed to defend the spud. A few highlights from positive reports include a response from Hazel Flight, programme lead for nutrition and health at Edge Hill University, who said: “For a nutritious vegetable which will power up your performance – look no further than the humble spud.” In her article in Fresh Produce Journal, ​In defence of potatoes. The writers at top-website-for-youngsters The Pool say they are all for tatties..Even the BBC, who aired a show bashing spuds in July, marked their own homework and said they had mislead consumers.Read more on the AHDB Potatoes site

France: Historic low potato yields expected

As the early potato season comes to an end in France, early potatoes and the new crops are now taking over. The first available data indicate, for the moment, yields down by about 7% compared to the five-year average. More potatoes were planted: + 3.6% in France and + 1% for the 5 NEPG countries. While average planting dates were later, following the adverse weather conditions during the spring for a number of weeks, the general growth of potatoes were negatively affected. Plants are now in general slowing down as far as growth is concerned and this will limit any chance of a higher average yield developing in the weeks to come. A final total harvest of between 5.2 and 5.7 million tons is expected, with irrigated fields around 13 tons per ha higher than un-irrigated areas. Some producers of processing potatoes may not be able to honour their contract commitments with processors as far as volume and quality are concerned. The starch sector is experiencing similar problems, both in terms of total volume as well as quality. Virtually no starch potatoes are irrigated. (Source: UNPT. News in French here

Potato industry to sell spuds as performance-boosting

Image result for performance potatoesThe US potato industry is making a strong statement about potatoes to demonstrate the performance-boosting benefits of America’s favorite vegetable. Potatoes USA, a Denver-based national marketing group representing 2,500 growers and handlers, worked with its members to identify a nutrition-based lifestyle benefit that challenges consumers’ preconceived notions about potatoes. Extensive research led to a marketing strategy based on a key truth: Potatoes fuel performance. Potatoes provide the energy, potassium and complex carbohydrate people need to perform at their best, according to a release from Potatoes USA. Potatoes contain many important nutrients that athletes seek. “The potato undeniably works in the athlete’s favor,” says Blair Richardson, Potatoes USA President/CEO. “The message is clear: If potatoes can fuel elite athletes, they can fuel your active life, too.” Read more

On this National French Fry Day, ORE-IDA introduces Potato Pay, the future of mealtime bribery

Image result for This National French Fry Day, ORE-IDA Introduces Potato Pay, the Future of Mealtime BriberyToday is National French Fry Day in the US. In a press release issued earlier today, potato processor ORE-IDA says the company knows it’s at times hard to get kids to eat their dinner. Mealtime serves up tantrums and tears regularly. It usually takes some sort of bribe or game to get them to eat that one piece of broccoli, the company says. So, why change a method that we all know already works, when it can simply be renamed? Meet Potato Pay, a new and easy way to get your children to eat their dinner. Each fry is a piece of crispy golden currency designed to be the most satisfying bribery tool possible. Just pay your child with the ORE-IDA fries they love to eat, in return for bites of the foods that they don’t. For example, one bite of chicken = one fry, a mushroom = three fries and a spoonful of quinoa = five fries. Refer to the easy-to-use mealtime bribery chart, or “Frynancial Guide,” to see the fry value of various food items. Ore-Ida says the idea for Potato Pay is simple yet powerful —mealtime can be a real struggle for parents… Full press release

Taco Bell wants to ‘Make Potato Great’ again in India

Image result for Crispy PotacoAloo Jeera, Aloo Gobhi, Aloo Matar, Aloo Palak, Aloo Methi; these are just some of the more typical items you’ll find on most Indian menus. Boiled, mashed, baked, blanched, fried et al, the humble potato, a staple for many, can be served up in so many (many) forms and thus, caters to a wide variety of taste buds. But what does it have to do with Taco Bell? Well, the American fast-food brand has decided to decode Indian’s insatiable love affair with the mighty potato with the introduction of an all-new ‘Crispy Potaco‘ to their menu and the aim to #MakePotatoGreat. Through this digital-only campaign, conceptualised by Ogilvy and seemingly aimed at millennials, Tanmay Bhat, comedian and social influencer, is seen in the video pitching the product or rather, the potato, to investors. India as a region continues to be a key growth focus for Taco Bell globally and the brand believes it can be one of their biggest markets outside of the US, in the near future. Read more

PepsiCo attempts health focus in Thailand

PepsiCo Food, a part of Pepsi-Cola Thai Trading Co and the maker of Lay’s potato chips, is shifting to healthier snack options. The company aims to make Sunbites, a multigrain snack, healthy snack brand among Thais. The move is part of Pepsi-Cola’s 2016-25 strategic plan to focus on three core priorities: improving health and well-being through the products it sells, protecting the planet and empowering people around. The company previously launched baked potato chips under the Lay’s brand and moved to use rice bran oil, replacing palm oil. Lay’s potato chips have grown in double-digits in the first five months of this year to grow by 17%.  Read more

Belgian potato processor says it responds to consumer demands

Image result for lutosaIn an interview with Dan Orehov or Potato Processing International magazine, the  marketing director of Lutosa, Françoise Saint-Ghislain, discussed trends and innovation in processed potato products. Orehov asked her how she views the current market trends concerning processed potatoes, including french fries, and in particular what consumers prefer. “We noticed a rise in our customer’s demand for organic-based products,” Saint-Ghislain said. “Therefore, we have been expanding our existing range of frozen fries (Straight Cut and Pom’Steak), wedges, mashed potatoes, and potato flakes (for instant mash), by introducing frozen dices. The organic range targets the industry, the food service and retail markets.” Saint-Ghislain also said that gluten-free is a trend where Lutosa can easily play a role as all its fries and cut products (wedges, slices, dices…) are 100% gluten-free. “Staying in is the new going out!,” Saint-Ghislain said. People are gathering more and more at home, ordering food online. Read more

In America, millennials eat – potatoes!

Copy editor and designer Amelia Freidline and staff writer Ashley Nickle of The Packer magazine produced a delightful short video in which they discuss the produce age gap for potatoes, which according to Fresh Trends research are purchased much more by older generations than by millennials. Amelia and Ashley talk through the perceived drawbacks to potatoes and suggest marketing angles that work around those, and as usual they sample a delectable dish prepared by Amelia. Says Amelia: “Potatoes are easy. They are good for you. You don’t want to waste them…” Go here to watch the video on The Packer website. For more on the concept of the produce age gap, check out this column by editor Greg Johnson.

Lamb Weston stock gains on demand for fries, new product innovation

Image result for taco bell's nacho friesNo matter how you slice, mash or fry it, Lamb Weston Holdings has been on a tear since going public a year and a half ago. The Eagle, Idaho-based company has become a top supplier of frozen potato, sweet potato, appetizer and vegetable products to restaurants and retailers worldwide. By finding new ways to get spuds to the public in new forms, its stock keeps trending higher. Take last quarter, when the company got a sales boost via Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries. Yum Brands, the fast-food chain’s parent company, called the spicy potato fries the most popular debut in Taco Bell’s history. Lamb Weston Chief Executive Tom Werner says the company has benefited from strong demand and new product innovation. “As our strong third quarter and year-to-date results show, our commercial and supply chain teams are executing well and the operating environment continues to be favorable,” Werner said on a recent earnings call with analysts. Read more