Seed Industry Event in the UK to focus on post-Brexit seed trade

Image result for seed industry potato event ukAfter the success of the 2016 event, the Seed Industry Event will return to Fairmont, St Andrews on 15 November this year. The event will have a major theme focusing on how what the future may hold for the seed trade in a post-Brexit world and how to make the most of the global export market opportunities Brexit will present. Furthermore, a host of international experts will also discuss other key topics such as plant health, exports, and marketing. Great Britain’s seed’s high health status is one of its main selling points, which is why that status is another major theme of this year’s event. The conference will also feature a number of workshops where the latest research on key topics such as blackleg and aphid and virus will be revealed, and there will also be sessions on the Safe Haven Scheme and the benefits of benchmarking. Visit the AHDB Potatoes website for full information and registration details

Idaho’s 2017/18 fresh potato prices raise national average

packerSales of table stock potatoes in the 2017-18 season totaled 107 million cwt., a 6% drop from the previous year, but the national average price-per-cwt. rose $1.13, to $11.73, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA released its annual summary of the previous season on Sept. 13. Overall production for the season, including frozen and dehydrated products, on 1.02 million acres was 442 million cwt., compared to 1.09 million acres and 441 million cwt. in the 2016-17 season. While the fall harvest of all potatoes, including those for processors, yielded 401 million cwt., a 1% drop from the previous fall, spring potato production was 19.8 million cwt., 30% more than the previous year, and summer production was 21.7 million cwt., an 11% increase from year to year. The Packer report

Germany faces ‘severe potato shortage’ and increase in consumer prices, farm organization warns

Related imageGermany faces a severe potato shortage as a consequence of unusually hot and dry weather this summer, the German Farming Society (DLG) warned on Wednesday. “We are expecting one of the smallest potato harvests of all times in Germany”, Martin Umhau, a member of the DLG supervisory board, told the German press agency (dpa). According to Umhau, an anticipated fall in potato yields from 11.7 million tons in 2017 to 8.5 million tons in 2018 could hereby lead to an increase in consumer prices by up to 30 percent. Umhau was speaking ahead of the start of PotatoEurope 2018 in Germany this past Wednesday. Potato farmers are one of several agricultural sectors in the country who said they face the prospect of widespread crop failures due to the hot and dry summer. Federal and state-level governments announced that they would set aside 340 million euros (394 million U.S. dollars) in financial aid for farmers who suffered particularly heavy losses. Read more

Trade issues: US senator calls for probe of alleged Canadian potato dumping

US and Canadian trade negotiators might need to add spuds to a list that already includes cheese, steel and softwood lumber, according to a news report published by the Cochrane Times-Post. A Republican senator has reportedly asked his government to investigate allegations by American farmers that Canadians are illegally dumping potatoes into their market, potentially opening a new front in the two nations’ trade war. A Democratic member of the senate has added her voice, too, suggesting there’s a “strong case” that Canadians are unfairly taking away American share of the tuber market. US producers point to the surge in imports from across the border in recent years, and say they suspect the lower price of Canadian potatoes is due to government subsidies or dumping. And they charge that Canadian rules have all but closed the market here to them. Canadian farmers reportedly responded that they are partly just benefiting from a favourable exchange rate, and say there is nothing to the subsidy allegation. Read full media report

British potato company agrees to £52.95mln cash takeover offer

Image result for produce investments potatoOne of the UK’s leading potato producers Produce Investments PLC has agreed to around a £52.95mln recommended cash takeover offer from a Jersey company ultimately owned and controlled by funds managed by Promethean Investments LLP. The AIM-listed group said April 1983 Bidco Limited is offering 193p in cash for each Produce Investments share, around a 35% premium to the stock’s 142.50p closing price on Monday. It added that the offer is conditional, amongst other things, on valid acceptances being received in respect of more than 50% of the Produce Investments shares.  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

McCain to hike prices as Britain’s potato product prices set to soar

The price of chips, crisps and other potato products is set to soar due to scorching temperatures in recent months that have damaged crops. Frozen chip maker McCain is understood to be hiking the price paid by supermarkets as much as 20 per cent as farmers struggle with major potato shortages following a two-month heatwave. Family favourites such as Walkers Crisps and potato waffle maker Birds Eye are also thought to mulling price increases. With production down, frozen potato supplier McCain’s will reportedly increase prices by 20% at the start of September in anticipation of the supply fall. And while this subsector has recently undercut total food inflation, other suppliers will likely follow suit. So the major grocers will face tough decisions should supplier prices rise. ‘Personally, I think the price rise from McCain is two months premature since volumes won’t be significantly affected until November,’ a source told Fresh Produce Journal. Read more

Higher consumer prices expected for potatoes in India, says trader

Related imageAccording to Mr S.K. Gautam, CEO of NR Tradewind Services Pvt Ltd in Delhi, higher consumer prices for potatoes can be expected during the next four months in India. Mr Gautam says this trend is confirmed by several market sources and is indicative of the current scenario caused by heavy rains and floods across many regions in India. “The good to heavy rains in the states of Karnatka, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, besides the flood situation in Kerala, is expected to cause this trend since fresh and green vegetable availability will be very limited,” he says. “Heavy rains and floods will lead to a demand and supply gap especially in the southern region of India.” Mr Gautam also points out that the storage of potato was lower initially at the time of harvest compared to last year. “The estimated storage figures of the different states, for this current production year, was quite low compare to 100% storage last year,” he says.  Continue reading

New Zealand, Fiji discuss potato trade, varieties and knowledge transfer

New Zealand’s potato industry governing body  has made a commitment to ensure the quality of potatoes imported from NZ by Fiji will be of top quality. Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) says it wanted to see Fiji’s potato industry grow. Its chief executive Chris Claridge made the comments during a bilateral meeting with the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (NZMPI) in Nadi on Tuesday. PNZ was representing the interests of the NZ potato industry at the meeting. Mr Claridge said: “On behalf of Potatoes NZ, I would like to make a commitment in ensuring the quality of potatoes that we send from NZ to Fiji will remain at the highest possible level. We have quite a lot of technical knowledge to manage potatoes, how to ensure it is disease free and how to achieve good yields,” Mr Claridge said. He added that they are able to identify a potato variety that might grow better here and is robust to cope with the Fijian climate conditions. Read more

International Trade Secretary signs major deal allowing export of UK seed potatoes to China

Image result for International Trade Secretary signs major deal allowing export of UK seed potatoes to ChinaChina’s developing taste for chips and crisps will soon be fueled by British produce, as International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP secures a deal which enables the UK to export seed potatoes to China. According to a press release issued earlier today, the deal is expected to bring major benefits to Scotland, with around 70% of the 100,000 tonnes of seed potatoes exported annually from the UK coming from Scottish farms. The seed potato export market is already worth an annual £90 million to the UK, with some varieties fetching up to £900 per tonne. China is the largest global consumer of potatoes in the world. As the country’s demand for potato-based foods increases, the humble spud is now China’s fourth staple crop after rice, corn and wheat – with demand increasing at a rapid rate. The agreement was signed by the International Trade Secretary during his visit to China. Dr Fox is also meeting businesses and senior Chinese government ministers to discuss further trading opportunities between the 2 countries.  Continue reading

Potato industry in Bavaria expecting only ‘slightly below-average harvest’

While the catastrophic climatic conditions in northern Germany are becoming increasingly clear, potato growers and marketers in southern Germany expect only a slightly below-average harvest. In Bavaria in particular there were only occasional weather extremes in recent weeks, which is why crop development was not significantly affected. Current producer prices are quite satisfactory (€18-20 per 100 kg) and, since the local industry is increasingly focusing on exports, there are also interesting sales markets beyond its borders. “Due to the weather so far, we expect a normal harvest within our production area of Neuburg-Schrobenhausen,” says Johann Schmidt, owner of the potato wholesaler of the same name based in Upper Bavaria.  Continue reading

‘Challenge is to guarantee quality of potatoes,’ says trader in Belgium

The potato market in Europe is still under pressure because of the dry weather. “The rain that fell in recent days, is a bit too late. The damage has been done. Some varieties will recover somewhat, but yields will be low. Yields are between 15 and 30 tonnes, and that’s very disappointing,” says Bart Nemegheer of De Aardappelhoeve in Belgium. It’s difficult to fulfil the contracts on the market, because growers don’t have the potatoes. “Last week there was a meeting between industry and the potato sector, and it was decided to relax quality requirements somewhat. People are looking for a solution, but this year is just going to be problematic.” Because of the extreme heat, the sprout dormancy was interrupted, says Nemegheer, “resulting in a worse storability. It will be a challenge to guarantee quality up to the end of the season.” Read more

Washington Potato Commission exec: ‘We’re out of acres’

“We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes,” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, says.Washington potato exports continue to grow each year but not as fast as those of competing countries, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the state’s Potato Commission. Potatoes from the European Union have cut into Washington potatoes’ market share on the Pacific Rim, Voigt said. “We’re starting to see a lot of European french fries showing up in Japan, China and places where we normally didn’t run across as much of them,” he said. “We’re actually hoping there’s a way we can grow or plant more potatoes here in Washington, because we know there is demand in the Pacific Rim, but we’re out of acres,” Voigt said. “We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes.” The only way to increase exports is to cost-effectively bring more water to dryland production areas, or somehow increase yields, Voigt said. “We’re trying to work on both of those,” he said. Read more

West Australia’s spuds set for all-clear to head east again

Image result for australia potatoWest Australia’s potato growers could regain access to Eastern States markets by the end of the year, after a big biosecurity effort demonstrated a rare bug found in WA does not carry a damaging bacteria. The tomato potato psyllid was detected in WA 18 months ago, causing Eastern States markets to shut their doors to WA potatoes, a move estimated to have cost local growers tens of millions of dollars. While it has been accepted the psyllid itself cannot be eradicated, WA has met surveillance requirements to demonstrate the absence of the bacteria known as CLso in WA, meaning other States can reopen their borders to the State’s potatoes. To achieve an area freedom certificate, Department of Primary Industries officers tested more than 10,000 psyllids and almost 12,000 host plants over three growing seasons. Albany grower Colin Ayres estimated the problem cost his business more than $2 million, after he found there was no market for perfectly good seed potatoes. He halved his plantings the following season. Read more

‘Potatoes less exposed to Brexit risks than many other sectors’

Field of potatoes, potato blightBrexit may provide British potato farmers with an opportunity to substitute imports if trade barriers are imposed by Brussels. As a result, it means the sector could be less exposed than others in the industry. That is the message from David Swales, head of strategic insight at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), who spoke at ‘Potatoes in Practice’ in Dundee on Thursday, August 9. “Tariff-free access is critical for most sectors, but for potatoes, barriers might present opportunities for import substitution – particularly in the processing sector,” he said. As he addressed a predominantly Scottish audience, Swales said: “That for the potato industry north of the border, trade barriers may translate into a larger domestic market for seed producers.” In an attempt to ensure a smooth transition into life after Brexit, AHDB has launched a new online calculator. The Brexit Impact Calculator allows individuals to input their own data and see what effects the different Brexit scenarios might have on their business. Read more