Potato growers rejoice as Indonesia extends Australian seed potato access

Indonesia extends Australian seed potato accessThe Indonesian market beckons for Australian seed potato farmers, after market access to the South East Asian nation was extended today (16 February Indonesian/Australian time). The deal paves the way for suppliers from Victoria and South Australia to commence trade immediately. “This is a fantastic result for farmers in these two states — as major seed potato producers — and builds on current seed potato access for Western Australia,” explained Australian minister for agriculture and water resources, David Littleproud. “The export protocol has been on the boil for a while and today we finally got it over the line – this will take an industry with a current production value of A$520.3m, to new heights.” (Source: Fruitnet)

US: Potatoes, politics kick off conference

A year after predicting how the new Trump Administration might affect agriculture, National Potato Council Executive Vice President John Keeling was back to give an update on politics and agriculture during the first day of the 2018 Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference and Trade Fair on Tuesday in Monte Vista. Keeling said he had anticipated that President Donald Trump might act differently once he was in office, but he said on Tuesday, “I haven’t seen anything different. He is who he is.” The subject of trade is “very confusing and uncertain,” Keeling said. Talks are ongoing to renegotiate NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), Keeling said, but the atmosphere around the re-negotiations is “difficult or confusing at best”. Keeling also talked about the progress of expanding potato exports in Mexico. He said in the last 10 days he met with three undersecretaries with USDA who are continuing to push Mexico to take the steps they need to open the market back up again. More

US: Potato CEO sees challenges and success with Trump

vaughn-political-climate-03.jpgJohn Keeling has spoken about politics to agricultural crowds for 25 years, but he’s never seen a political climate quite like this. “We’ve seen things over the last year that just have never happened before,” said Keeling, the executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council in the US, during his keynote speech at the 28th annual Eastern Shore Agricultural Conference and Trade Show. “It’s ground we’ve never plowed before. It’s interactions we’ve never seen before. It’s ways of doing business we’ve never seen before,” Keeling said. “There’s nothing wrong with renegotiating NAFTA. …There’s nothing wrong with making NAFTA better,” he said. “But if we lose NAFTA in its entirety, it would be devastating for the potato industry, devastating for the grain industry, the pork industry. Other Trump policies, though, have benefited farmers. More

Grower opinion: Instilling confidence for a successful British potato industry

Confidence throughout the supply chain is key to a sustainable potato industry, but how can growers, processors and packers ensure consistent productivity and regular investment in an ever-changing marketplace? The challenges associated with the UK potato sector are not new; a high turnover of varieties, changing consumer habits and hugely volatile commodity prices all add to the complexity of the industry, not to mention the more recent curveball – Brexit. Rufus Pilgrim, managing director of one of the UK’s leading suppliers and packers of potatoes, Yorkshire-based R S Cockerill, has been exposed to the difficulties and opportunities surrounding the industry for 25 years. Prompted by a concern about potato supply, in 2016 Mr Pilgrim decided to complete a Nuffield scholarship entitled ‘The future of the UK potato industry – learnings from successful supply models’. More

Platform for online trade in potatoes now a reality

An online market for the professional purchase and sale of potatoes worldwide, named Potato Market, is now a reality. It is a project launched recently by the company Agromar, which has facilities and grow potatoes in France and Spain, and is part of the company Intersur, a leader in the production of new potatoes in Spain. “Some years ago, there was already a similar initiative, but either because it was not the time or because it did not have adequate resources, it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean that Potato Market isn’t a pioneering idea, since it is the first digital platform of its kind; the first online market for producers and professional buyers of potatoes,” explains the person in charge of this project, Ángel Muñoz, Director of Agromar and Intersur. “We know that producers want to have a tool that puts them in direct contact with the market in real time. Potato Market does not aim to be a revolutionary tool; its goal is simply to allow professionals in the sector to have a digital tool that complements traditional channels for potato trade.”  More 

US: Potato prices strengthening

Potato harvestTight supplies are pushing potato prices higher, but those better prices probably won’t last long. “I think we are coming into a crunch time for potatoes,” said Bruce Huffaker with North American Potato Market News. That’s good news for potato growers who have seen relatively flat prices at near cost of production levels for the last five years. “We are running up against a situation where Russet potato supplies are getting tight,” Huffaker said. As a result, Russet table potato prices are 50 percent higher than this time last year. Huffaker expects competition for Russets may get fierce before the 2018 crop is harvested. “It’s going to be hard to come up with enough potatoes,” Huffaker said. But he also expects this to be a short-term market crunch that will likely resolve itself by harvest. He is concerned that growers who didn’t plant potatoes last year and are faced with low grain and hay prices will be tempted to plant more potatoes. More

HZPC to venture into the export of true potato seed?

According to a news report published yesterday on the Dutch agriculture website Agf.nl, potato seed breeder and supplier of seed and ware potatoes, HZPC, intends to export true potato seed (TPS) in the near future. The company, based in the Netherlands with subsidiaries in several other countries, reportedly see opportunities for the export of true potato seed to countries in particularly the Central African region as well as Asian countries where strict sanitary plant regulations are in place. According to the report, it is expected that the trade in true potato seed might in time ‘even surpass traditional seed potato trade’ in these countries. Source: AGF report (in Dutch).

India: Punjab to export potatoes to Russia and Middle East; eyeing Europe and the Americas also

Against a production cost of around Rs 5 per kg, potato is selling at Rs 2 per kg in the wholesale market. Doaba has 93% of the state’s sown area of the crop.Four months after farmers dumped potatoes on roads in some parts of the state, seeking remunerative price for the produce, the Punjab government has allowed the export of potatoes to Russia and the Middle East. The past few years have witnessed surplus production of potatoes in the state. This glut in production and no buyers due to demonetisation over the past two seaons had led to a crash in prices.  The price crash is a cyclical occurence in the state, but demonetisation had aggaravated the crisis. “If the government fails to intervene to help potato growers, Doaba farmers will be the worst-hit,” Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA) general secretary Jaswinder Singh Sangha had recently said. After the decision, he said, “We hope for export to Europe and the Americas to start soon as well.” More

European potato market overview: Demand nearly nonexistent in France

The potato organization FIWAP (Filière Wallonne de la Pomme de terre) in Belgium has published it’s latest weekly report. According to the report, there is virtually no demand for processing potatoes in France, although some buyers are expected to return to the market in the coming weeks / months as contract volumes are completed. The fresh market is also moving slow, with very low prices in stores. Export is struggling to restart, especially due to a lack of trucks. In the Netherlands, exporters are counting on export to rebound to Africa (West African destinations) which is long overdue. Limited volumes are regularly made to the Caribbean and the Middle East. Trade to Southern and Eastern Europe is still too weak to boost markets. In the UK, some analysts say the current market complications could lead to a significant decrease in planted area in 2018. More

Not much movement on Belgian potato market, says owner of potato pool

Last year, potato wholesaler RTL Patat from Menen, Belgium, started the first Belgian potato pool. In the Netherlands, this has existed for a while. Owner Rik Tanghe talks about how things are now. “Multiple growers have signed up with us now. Our goal is to have higher average daily prices. That’s very tricky this year, due to the low daily prices and difficult market circumstances. I still have high hopes for a price change at the end of the season, in particular due to the good quality of the potatoes.” Rik: “There’s little to no day trading. Hardly anything is happening, and most growers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.” (Source: FreshPlaza)

2018 Potato Expo Panelists: ‘Potato expectations critical in buy-sell relationship’

Communicating quality expectations clearly is the best way to avoid conflicts in buyer-seller relationships, according to panelists at the 2018 Potato Expo. In a fresh market track workshop called “Identifying the Source of Quality Issues in the Fresh Potato Supply Chain,”  retailers and shippers on Jan. 11 talked about how they sort out quality expectations. The session was moderated by Mac Johnson, president and CEO of Category Partners. Johnson said the common perception is that consumers are increasingly quality conscious. He asked the panel if that perception translated to retailers and growers. While price is important to customers, Jeff Heins, regional quality control manager for Walmart in Florida, said consumers also expect high quality. Steve Elfering, vice president of operations at Potandon Produce said Potandon keeps profiles on each customer and can systematically adjust packing based on their needs. Tony Trujillo, quality control manager for Farm Fresh Direct, said Farm Fresh understands the personality and needs of each receiver they ship and can adjust if needed. More

Potato Expo brings crowd, talk of trucks, trade

Drawing 165 exhibitors and 1,700 attendees, the 2018 Potato Expo featured discussions of hot-button issues of trade, trucks, immigration and technology. Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA, said the Potato Expo gives the industry a sense of communal identity to discuss issues facing the industry in different sectors and different parts of the country. “At the end of the day, we are all focused on one thing, to build opportunities for potatoes and potato farmers,” Richardson said. The lack of trucks has been a big topic among attendees, said John Keeling, CEO and executive vice president of the National Potato Council. Potato Expo attendees also are anxious about trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement, Keeling said. President Trump pulling out of NAFTA would be catastrophic for the potato industry, Keeling said. “We are losing ground not just in Mexico if NAFTA doesn’t come together, we are losing ground in Japan and Indonesia and other places…” More