Salty facts: American salty snacks market to reach $29 billion by 2022; dominated by Frito-Lay

Related imageHow Americans eat has evolved to match the frequently hurried, harried and hectic lifestyles of today’s consumers, says market research firm Packaged Facts. That shift has been a boon to convenient food options, including salty snacks such as potato chips, popcorn and pretzels. In its new report, “Salty Snacks: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities,” Packaged Facts estimates retail dollar sales of the U.S. salty snacks industry at $24 billion in 2017, expected to exceed $29 billion in 2022. Despite competition from other snacks, such as chocolate and non-chocolate confections, cookies and crackers, the outlook for salty snacks remains bright. Future growth is expected to come from products that are as flavorful as possible but also as healthy and nutritious as possible. The report shows that PepsiCo controls about 60% of retail sales in the American salty snacks market through its Frito-Lay division. The Shelby Report. Also read report by Potato Business

Canada: Newtec potato grader simultaneously sorts by quality, size and shape

Celox-P-UHDDavid Main, biologist at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada on Prince Edward Island, is evaluating a new potato grader for potatoes this year. The machine is a Celox-P-UHD from Newtec. Main says a number of potato growers on Prince Edward Island are using Newtec’s Celox sorting machines now. The grader is designed to sort potatoes by size, shape and quality in a single-stage process. It sorts washed potatoes directly, eliminating the need for pre-grading and minimising the need for manual labor, whilst ensuring consistent quality and high throughput. Up to 13 categories of products can be sorted out simultaneously. Sorting criteria for these categories are instantly customisable according to the current needs. Premium product selections can effortlessly be sorted out of bulk produce.  Continue reading

CIP study: Poor quality seed, bacterial wilt holding back higher potato yields in Africa

Image result for POTATO PRODUCTION IN AFRICA CAN BE INCREASED BY 140%: FIND OUT HOWPotato, the third most important food crop after rice and wheat, is globally consumed by over a billion people. According to FAO statistics, potato production in Africa tripled from 1994 through 2011, from 8 to 24 million metric tons, but largely due to the increase of cropping area. Half of this production comes from sub-Saharan Africa where a recent study carried out by the International Potato Center (CIP) and its partners from 2013 to 2016 has shown that this level of production could be increased by 140% if identified causes of yield gap were addressed. In this study, the research yield gap is defined as the difference between the research yield and the potential yield, whereas the absolute yield gap is derived from the difference between the average farmer’s yield and the potential yield. Modeling work conducted by CIP and its partners in ten SSA countries showed that farmers’ yield gap (24 t/ha) exceeds the current farmers’ yield (8 t/ha). A six month online survey outlined twelve most important yield gap challenges out of an initial list of thirty. Poor quality seed was the top-ranked yield gap cause identified by survey respondents, followed by bacterial wilt. Read more on the CIP website. The full Report can be downloaded as a pdf file

Syngenta develops RNA-based biocontrols for crop improvement

Image result for colorado potato beetleSyngenta is developing a new line of biocontrols based on RNA. The biocontrol can be designed to be very selective so that it only affects the target pest(s). So when it is sprayed onto the plant the biocontrol targets a crop pest such as the Colorado Potato Beetle, which can destroy entire crops; our initial data indicate that beneficial insects and even closely related species are not harmed. The RNA-based biocontrol is then broken down in the environment and does not affect the plant. Syngenta is committed to being transparent in how they are developed and to periodically make its data available. Syngenta is the first agrochemical company to share RNA-based biocontrols research as open data in order to engage in a new type of dialogue with scientists and researchers. Syngenta partners with the Open Data Institute to publish their data to the best practice standards in the industry. This data can be used by anyone for research and analysis. Watch how the biocontrol works on Colorado potato beetle. Read more

Thirsty spuds: Irrigation a hot topic at SPot Scotland Open Day in Britain

After three weeks without rainfall, AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm Scotland Open Day took place on the light loams of Bruce Farms near Meigle, Perthshire on Tuesday 10 July. Around 70 growers, agronomists and industry representatives attended, as Bruce Farms Potato Manager, Kerr Howatson and industry expert, Dr Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF, headed both morning and afternoon sessions to advise attendees on crop response in dry conditions. With only 39mm of rain at Bruce Farms, June’s rainfall was less than half the 20-year average, a huge difference in terms of what is required. Kerr Howatson said: “We’ve been without rain since the 20 June, so we’re now beginning to see the effects of a prolonged dry spell, something that we’re not really used to. Typically we would only need to irrigate once, maybe twice every four to five years but we’re now looking at our fourth round of irrigation of the season. This is absolutely vital at the moment to keep the soil moisture deficit from rising too high, so the best advice would be to top up little and often.” Read more

Emerging economies fuel potato peeler and slicer equipment market

The humble potato has long been a staple of the hospitality industry palette, and accordingly to prepare this and other vegetables on a commercial scale requires specialist appliances. But what is the market outlook for this type of kit – should manufacturers be entering the sector or upping their stocks, or should distributors be sitting up and taking note of any trends? To assist any curious minds, India-based research company 360 Market Updates has published the ‘Potato Peeler and Slicer Equipment Market Report’, focusing on the potato processing equipment sold by distributors to end users in commercial and industrial set-ups. The research focuses on the 2017-2021 period and forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 7.66% throughout that term. According to the research firm, this positive prediction is mainly due to increasing replacement demand from developed economies, the growing number of foodservice establishments, and rising demand for new units of potato peeler and slicer equipment from emerging economies.  Continue reading

The Netherlands: Tiny country; agricultural giant – showing what the future of farming could look like

Related imageIn a potato field near the Netherlands’ border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in the cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise. From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne’s production numbers testify to the power of this “precision farming,” as it’s known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne’s fields reliably produce more than 20. That copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.” Since 2000, van den Borne and many of his fellow farmers have reduced dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 percent. How on Earth have the Dutch done it? Read the full article in National Geographic

Researchers discover natural product that could lead to new class of commercial herbicide

Plants and unseen microorganisms in the soil all need precious space to grow. And to gain that space, a microbe might produce and use chemicals that kill its plant competitors. But the microbe also needs immunity from its own poisons. By looking for that protective shield in microorganisms, specifically the genes that can make it, a team of UCLA engineers and scientists discovered a new and potentially highly effective type of weed killer. This finding could lead to the first new class of commercial herbicides in more than 30 years, an important outcome as weeds continue to develop resistance to current herbicide regimens. Using a technique that combines data science and genomics, the team found the new herbicide by searching the genes of thousands of fungi for one that might provide immunity against fungal poisons. This approach is known as “resistance gene-directed genome mining.” Read more

Tiny but effective: Researchers developed new nano-material as potato sprout inhibitor

Related imageIn a research paper published recently online in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, scientists from Hefei Institute of Physical Science in China claim they have developed a nano-material that inhibits the sprouting of potatoes. The material is named “hydrophobic nano silica” (H-SiO2) and was developed through the modification of nano silica by amino silicon oil (ASO) – and then applied as a sprout inhibitor on potato tubers. The researchers say the material suppresses the formation of toxic glyco-alkaloids that typically is associated with the sprouting process. They further claim that treated tubers did not show a negative effect as far as germination is concerned when planted as seed. The material is said to be easily removed by washing prior to cooking since it does not penetrate the skin of tubers and thus does not pose a food safety risk. Although not commercialized at this point in time, the new material does seem to be of interest to those who specializes in potato sprout inhibitors. An abstract of the research and contact details can be found on the website of the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering journal.

Researchers tease out the reason for late blight pathogen’s ability to evade immunity in potatoes

Image result for late blight potatoIn a paper recently published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, an international team of scientists describes how evasion of host immunity by a clonal variant of the potato blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans is associated with variation in gene expression without any apparent underlying genetic changes. According to senior authors of the study, Vivianne G.A.A. Vleeshouwers, Hannele Lindqvist-Kreuze and Sophien Kamoun, They studied two different races of the Irish potato famine pathogen, and we discovered that the difference invirulence between these races could not be ascribed to a genetic difference but rather to a difference in the expression of the underlying virulence gene. “This adds to our knowledge of how this important scourge on world agriculture evolves to evade plant immunity,” the researchers say.  Continue reading

Australian experts underscore importance of certified potato seed for black leg disease control

Related imageAround the world, blackleg of potato is caused by several species of bacteria that can be carried and transmitted through seed tubers. Potatoes Australia spoke to Agriculture Victoria Research Scientist Dr Rachel Mann and ViCSPA General Manager Dr Nigel Crump about the identification and management of the blackleg disease. The main causal agent of blackleg in Australia is Pectobacterium atrosepticum although another bacterium known as Dickeya dianthicola was discovered in Western Australia in 2017. Dr Rachel Mann has been assisting with the traceback of the disease. “Blackleg is something that people can readily identify in the field, although it is not possible to determine which bacteria is causing it,” Dr Mann said. Seed tubers are the most important source of inoculum in the blackleg disease cycle. Therefore, management of the disease largely relies on the use of certified seed. “Due to the use of clean seed, blackleg is not very prevalent in Australia,” said Dr Nigel Crumm. Read full article on p20 of the June/July issue of Potatoes Australia

Is an imminent oversupply situation looming in the North-Western European potato area?

Related imageBased upon the latest NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) estimates, the consumption potato area in the combined 5 North-Western European countries is 595.587 ha, an increase of 1% compared to last season. The British area is still based on a 5 years average. In a press release issued earlier today, the NEPG says that given prevailing market realities measured against a healthy balance between supply and demand, the increase in planted area this season this is very likely to result in an oversupply situation in the NEPG region. However, the organization says in its press release that final yields will have much more of an impact than the planted area. It is extremely dry in the NEPG countries at this point in time, and there are areas where the crop starts suffering from a lack of water. Weather forecasts indicate that widespread rain is not expected on the short term. Poland also reports dry conditions. The NEPG however stresses that it is still too early to make yield estimations at this stage of the season. Read the full press release

Useful publication: Guide to investing in a post-harvest line

Image result for wymaIf you are considering investing in a post-harvest processing line, this guide
will make the process easier. It is not exhaustive, but will help you understand
the process so you can find the perfect solution for your business. The Guide is published by Wyma, based in New Zealand. The company designs, manufactures, distributes and services post-harvest vegetable handling equipment and solutions worldwide. The Guide includes: 10 major things to consider before choosing a solution provider; 15 key questions to determine your requirements and specifications; How to develop a business case for investing in a new line; and Total cost of ownership and setting a realistic budget for now and the future. Go here to download the Guide

US frozen potato exports up 8% in April; fresh exports down 33%

Related imageAccording to data released by Potatoes USA, exports of frozen potato products increased 8% in volume and 9% in value in April 2018 compared to April 2017. Dehy exports were up 21% in volume and 21% in value. Fresh exports were down 33% in volume and 13% in value. Frozen exports are up 1% for the July – June marketing year through April, with dehy up 5% year to date and fresh up 5% for the marketing year. The decline in fresh sales volume was driven by russets, down 10.3%. On the positive side red sales were up 2.1%, whites up 5%, medleys up 40% and purples up 7.2%. Continue reading

‘Electrocuted’: Pilot programme in New Zealand puts the power into potatoes

The Pulsed Electric Field Technology (PEF) machine on display at McCain Foods in Washdyke.The humble potato is in for a shocking multi-million dollar South Canterbury makeover. An industry pilot programme, part of the Ministry for Business and Innovation funded Food Industry Enabling Technology (FIET) programme worth almost $16.8 million, is being trialled at McCain Foods in Washdyke, Timaru, in what has been described as “electrocuting potatoes”. The three month test of the new Pulsed Electric Field Technology (PEF) machine from Germany, began in Timaru on Wednesday and involves industrial-scale food processing of the popular french fry. The machine uses a brief electric pulse to modify and disrupt the membranes of cells in plant or animal material. Otago University researchers are leading the pilot trial on potato processing – with initial research showing promising results for minimising waste through having fewer broken chips during processing.  Continue reading