South African potato sales grow by 24%

From January until July this year, a total of 12.9 million 10kg more bags of potatoes were reportedly sold on South African fresh produce markets than were sold at the same time period last year; up 24%. As a result, market prices were 37% lower during the same period. For the 2017 marketing year information for more than 44,000 hectares is already available. Indications are that hectares planted will only decrease slightly for 2017 compared to 2016. More

US: NPC CEO – ‘Improved NAFTA could deliver more potato gains’

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John Keeling, CEO of the NPC

Improvements in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could boost U.S. potato exports to Canada and Mexico in a big way. That’s the view of the National Potato Council (NPC), which submitted comments in June to the U.S. Trade Representative with suggestions how to improve the agreement while acknowledging that NAFTA has been “extremely beneficial” to the potato industry. Contacted before the recent Mexican court ruling about U.S. potato access in Mexico, John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council, said that the negotiations for a new NAFTA could help exports to Mexico. The first priority, he said, is to make sure the new agreement doesn’t lose the benefit of tariff-free access for U.S. potatoes to both Mexico and Canada. The Packer report

US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: Spanish press reports sharp hike in Mexican fresh potato prices after announcement of import ban

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Potatoes on display in a Mexican fresh produce market

The Spanish language potato news website Argenpapa reports that potato retailers are experiencing a sharp rise in the price of fresh potatoes in certain areas of Mexico, especially in Tamaulipas, a state in the northeast of Mexico, bordering the US. Some traders report a hike as much as 100%. Juan Antonio López, owner of a local fruit and vegetable market in Tamaulipas, told Argenpapa yesterday that his wholesale supplier informed him of a rise in price for his next order – this came almost immediately after the court decision of a ban on imported US potatoes became known last week. The explanation given by suppliers is that they expect US potatoes to be in short supply soon and given the fact that US potatoes are in great demand and cheaper than the locally produced product, they have no other choice but to up prices. The Alpha variety, which is very popular in Mexico, is especially effected, and retailers are unsure how much the price for Alpha potatoes will rise in the near future, but a sure rise is anticipated. Juan Antonio López told Argenpapa “from what we have seen, it is already selling at 29 pesos, while last Friday the price was at 15.50 pesos, so we expect people to buy less quantities from us”. Read the Spanish article

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

US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: ‘Mexican court ruling ignores science’, says NPC

In a statement released last night, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US says the recent ruling by a district court judge in Los Mochis to continue the ban on US potatoes in most of Mexico “ignores science and directly threatens the role of the Mexican plant health regulatory authority, SAGARPA”. In the statement, the NPC further says the ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, USDA and third party experts that have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico. In its statement, NPC points out that SAGARPA has completed and published a Pest Risk Assessment “that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated”. Similar analysis by a panel of third party experts facilitated by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) reached a similar conclusion, NPC says in its statement. The organization is of the opinion that the ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico. Continue reading

US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: NPC concerned, but expects SAGARPA might appeal court ruling

Image result for potato tradeA judge from the state of Sinaloa in Mexico last week deemed the approach for U.S. fresh potato imports to ‘lack scientific basis’, threatens the ‘food sovereignty’ of Mexico, and can spread crop diseases, and should thus not be allowed. The National Potato Council (NPC) CEO in the US, John Keeling said the organization was waiting on specific details of the August 4 decision, including if and how fresh potato exports to the permitted 26-kilometer zone along the border would be affected. “We just got the ruling and it’s very detailed,” he told Fresh Fruit Portal. “Our lawyers are looking at it to determine exactly what the impact is on the various court cases going on, as well as the ability to continue to ship to the border areas of Mexico.” The U.S potato industry has been trying to gain full access to the Mexico potato market for quite some time, but has been thus far been met with legal barriers. Keeling also noted it was unusual for a judge to make a decision on phytosanitary issues, and he anticipates Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) might oppose the ruling. “We would expect that this ruling would be appealed by SAGARPA, so we’ll see how it goes as it moves up through the court system and what the finding of the other judges are,” he said.  Continue reading

Breaking News: Mexican court bans US potato imports over ‘food sovereignty’ and spread of diseases

Buttery Potatoes, Meals, Father's Day, Food Gifts, Side Dishes, Potatoes,According to an Associated Press (AP) news report, published late last night on CBC Local in Sacramento, a Mexican federal court has made an unusual ruling yesterday that bans the import of US potatoes on the grounds that the imports ‘violate Mexicans’ right to food sovereignty and a healthy environment’. A group of Mexican potato growers had reportedly sought a constitutional injunction on the imports, claiming that any imports will result in the spread of agricultural diseases within Mexico’s borders. The court further said Mexican agricultural authorities had failed to use sufficient methods such as radiation treatment of imports to prevent disease spread. But because federal injunctions are intended only to protect constitutional rights, the ruling had to break some new ground. The court therefore ruled that the ban must be implemented to maintain Mexicans’ collective rights to “preserve food sovereignty and the health of Mexican crop fields.” According to the AP report, the US agriculture department had no immediate comment on the ruling.

US: National Potato Council warns of ‘serious threat to the industry’ if potatoes are imported from the UK

Image result for potato fieldLast week, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US provided comments to USDA APHIS on the recent pest risk assessment for the importation of potatoes from the United Kingdom to the US. NPC emphasized concern over six pests that would threaten the industry. The introduction of these pests into the US would “substantially harm US potato production and could cost the industry tens of millions in lost export revenue”, the NPC warns. The pests of concern are: Dickeya solani, Meloidogyne minor, Synchytrium endobioticum, Ralstonia solanaceum, Globodera pallida and Globodera rostochiensis. NPC urged APHIS to approach the discussion with the U.K. with extreme caution. This public release of the pest risk assessment is a step in the process for considering whether these products can safely be imported into the US.  The NPC says at this point, no determination has been made whether the pest and disease threats can be reasonably mitigated. (Source: NPC)

Colorado potato crop looks good, but demand could use boost

The Colorado potato crop looks excellent, but prices are stagnant, raising hopes that the Trump administration’s much-discussed renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will make headway in opening greater access to the Mexican market. “It’s an opportunity to see our issues addressed,” said Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, during a visit to his office in Monte Vista. “The Mexican market holds a lot of promise for us.” American potato consumption is 114 pounds per capita per year, while in Mexico that figure is only 25 pounds. The disparity is caused by a lack of supply, Ehrlich said. “They’ve kept their prices high to protect domestic producers, but we think there’s some middle ground there. We think if we could expand the supply of potatoes in Mexico, everybody would benefit,” he said. More

India: Struggling with low prices, demand, farmers to sell potatoes directly to homes

Suffering significant losses due to low market prices and lack of demand, potato farmers in Uttar Pradesh have come up with a new strategy. They will now be going from door to door, selling their produce in urban areas. The move is also aimed at working around the monopoly of middlemen over market prices, they said. “At present we are selling potatoes at Rs 4 to 5 per kg, but consumers are buying them at Rs 15 to 20 per kg. Now we will sell our produce directly to households, at rates lower than what is prevailing in the market. We will sell in packets of 5 to 10kg in urban areas,” a farmer from Khandoli block said. More

Dutch potato sector accesses Argentinian market

MiniknollenAfter years of negotiations, the Argentinian border was recently opened for Dutch baby potatoes. The export of in-vitro propagated potato plants to the South American country is also now allowed. The Dutch Potato Organisation (NAO) are calling this a breakthrough of great importance for  the Dutch potato sector. The NAO is the branch organisation of potato traders, farmers and processors. Karst Weening of the NAO represented the organisation in the talks with Argentina. “The potato sector in Argentina has a lot of potential”, says Weening. “Dutch export products have an excellent image. We may finally export again, which is good news for exporters.” “The Netherlands played a crucial role in the Argentinian potato sector in the past. This was introducing new varieties and the improvement of existing varieties. This has been at a standstill for too long.” More. Report in Dutch

US potato exports increased in May

Image result for potato export imageU.S. exports of frozen, dehydrated and fresh potatoes all increased in May 2017 compared to May 2016, according to Potatoes USA. The organization reports that exports of frozen products increased 4% in volume and value and remain up 3% for the July – June marketing year. Dehy exports were up 19% in volume and 11% in value, but are still down 12% in volume for the marketing year. Fresh exports for May were up 9% in volume and 5% in value and are up 12% in volume for the year. Frozen exports for May were led by a 33% increase to Mexico, a 26% increase to Canada and 21% increase to Central America, along with substantial increases to Malaysia 15%, Philippines 25%, Taiwan 23%, Thailand 58% and Indonesia 15%. On the negative side, China continued to decline and is down 19%, while Korea reversed its positive growth for the year with a 9% decline; Japan was off 1%. Japan and Korea are still up for the marketing year, 10% and 3% respectively.  Continue reading

US potato industry joins voices supporting export assistance programs

Potato grower Eric Halverson  has spoken in front of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee was in Washington, D.C. regarding the importance of the USDA export programs. Mr. Halverson is a fourth-generation farmer and CEO of Black Gold Farms in Grand Forks, North Dakota. U.S. potato growers see fierce foreign competition in key export markets and continued access is vital for maintaining the economic health of the industry. He explained that the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) allows the U.S. to be competitive overseas through marketing and promotional activities that build commercial export markets. Halverson spoke about MAP’s important role in this public-private partnership, noting its 28-to-1 return-on-investment. More