McDonald’s Russia turns to local fries from new processing plant, citing Western sanction woes

Related imageFrench fries at McDonald’s restaurants from Moscow to Murmansk will be Russian from now on, as the American fast-food chain turns to homegrown potatoes to deal with ruble volatility caused by fluctuating oil prices and Western sanctions. McDonald’s Corp, which opened in Russia in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed, has been gradually turning to local ingredients in its Russian outlets for everything from Big Macs to chicken burgers since it opened its doors there. But till now it had relied on frozen French fries from the Netherlands and Poland as Russian spuds weren’t quite right. Now a new plant near Lipetsk, a city 450 km (280 miles) south of Moscow, using potatoes grown on local farms will supply frozen fries to the chain of 651 outlets across Russia under a long-term contract, raising the share of the chain’s locally sourced products to 98 per cent. Globe and Mail report. Reuters report

Mixed results for US potato exports, but strong growth in frozen sector

Related imageU.S. exports of fresh potatoes were down 7 percent by volume but up 27 percent by value to $13.6 million in February 2018 compared to 2017. The volume of exports of fresh potatoes (table-stock and chip-stock) were caused by the 33 percent decline to the largest market, Canada. Despite the higher prices, exports of fresh potatoes to Mexico were up 34 percent while Japan (chip-stock) grew by 17 percent and Taiwan was up 95 percent. Frozen potatoes saw strong growth with volume up 6 percent and the value up 6 percent as well, to over $90 million. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were off 12 percent by volume and 6 percent by value for a monthly total of just under $14 million. The increase in frozen exports was driven by 20 percent volume increase to Mexico, 38 percent increase to Central America, 64 percent increase to Taiwan and a 23 percent increase to the Philippines. More

Maine Potato Board monitoring U.S.-China trade disputes

Photo / Mainebiz archivesThe Maine Potato Board is keeping a close watch on trade disputes between the United States and China, which is one of the top five export markets for U.S. potato products. The County reported the board is concerned about the possibility of potatoes becoming subject to tariffs if the trade dispute between China and the U.S. extends beyond China’s announced plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of U.S. goods that include soybeans, aircraft and automobiles. Maine Potato Board Executive Director Don Flannery told The County that although potatoes haven’t been mentioned as a possible target of Chinese tariffs, “our product could be on the list at any time.” Maine potato farmers harvested 48,500 acres in 2017, with sales exceeding $162.3 million. “China does import a number of potatoes because they are an alternative to rice,” Flannery told the newspaper. With worldwide trade in potatoes and potato products averaging 8% annual growth, there remains significant opportunities for U.S. exports to continue to grow, according to a USPB news release. More

Report: ‘5.4 billion UK meal occasions features fresh potatoes eaten at home; 2.8 billion featuring frozen potato products’

Image result for british potatoesAHDB Potatoes in the UK recently published its latest annual Market Intelligence Report. In this highly informative report, it is noted that the GB market is increasingly influenced by the European potato market. Volatility in potato supply and prices, due to issues such as weather, means that imported European product plays a part in the GB market. In 2016/17, of non-EU countries, the UK imported the majority of fresh potatoes from Israel and processed potato products from Canada, South Africa and the USA. For non-EU exports, the UK continued to export the largest amount of seed potatoes to Egypt, fresh potatoes to Norway and processed potatoes to Nigeria in the 2016/17 season. According to the report, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker with YouGov to monitor attitudes toward potatoes on a six-monthly basis. The most recent findings of this survey show that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy.  Continue reading

Peru: Missed opportunities for native potatoes

Image result for Peru: Missed opportunities for native potatoesTruth is that there are many Peruvian products with a huge potential that are being wasted due to a lack of organization. Agroindustrial engineer Ronald Rimari Barzola, a consultant in frozen agricultural exports who has a special interest in the development of the Peruvian native potato industry, recently spoke about such an opportunity. Some weeks ago, during a conference about agricultural development, he recalled that there was a processing plant for native potatoes in the district of Chilca that had managed to export more than half a million dollars of native potatoes between 2015 and 2016. At the beginning of this year, he said, the processing plant had a great opportunity, which unfortunately they had to let go. Rimari considers that, if producers worked together, there could be the possibility of carrying out a commercial project of this magnitude. More

Overview of the European potato market for Week 14

Image result for potato tradeAccording to a Fiwap/PCA market report, the potato market atmosphere remains somewhat gloomy in Belgium despite the weather, which has kept prices steady. There are delays in early plantings in all major production areas in Belgium. German traders continue to deliver potatoes contracted to the Belgian industry last year, caused by the panic of several Belgian processors facing the drought of June 2017. Export’s are difficult, with small volumes to North Africa and the Balkans. There’s tough competition from French exporters with lower prices, and better skin qualities. It is reported from the Netherlands that traders experience good trade to the south of Europe as well as to the Balkans. Producer prices for export are between 4.00 and 6.00 €/a, depending on variety and quality. As of February 1st, 1,939,000 tons remain in stock in France, which is 359,000 tons (or 22.7%) more than on February 1st, 2017. Full report on FreshPlaza

Growing importance of Ireland for UK processed potato trade

Related imageAccording to a report by Daniel Rooney, AHDB Analyst, UK potato trade saw strong performance from its processed potato sectors in the first seven months of the 2017/18 marketing season. Trade of frozen potato goods, by far the largest imported potato commodity, has seen strong growth both leaving and entering the UK, although imports still outweigh exports by ten-fold. The UK remains a net exporter of crisps, with exports continuing to grow. Exports of crisps increased by 12% between July and January this year compared to the same period last season. This was largely driven by increased demand from Ireland who imported 9.3Kt in the first seven months of the 2017/18 season, an increase of 23% on the year. Crisps exported to Ireland have seen strong growth over the past five years, increasing by 70% since the 2013/14 season. Although exports of frozen chips is a relatively small market compared to imports, Ireland remains the primary destination and increased its demand by 28% since 2013/14. More

Maltese potatoes in serious decline

Image result for malta potatoesMalta’s humble potato, one of its most celebrated exports, is facing a crisis. In the decade between 2004 and 2014, exports fell from 7,200 tons to just 3,100 tons; a massive 56% drop. This relentless decline of potato cultivation in Malta was documented in an overview of the agricultural sector in the national 2018-2028 policy that described export levels falling “drastically” in 2015 and 2016 due to the shortage of rainfall. “Growing potatoes is a hard task and many farmers feel that it is not worth the effort, considering the high costs,” a farmer told MaltaToday. But policy review shows that very little has been done in the past years to boost the sector. Despite the potential for potato production, which can be grown almost all-year round, a considerable amount of potatoes are imported to cater for domestic and tourist consumption. More

Grant offers boost for Australian potato growers

Related imageA Yarloop potato grower in Australia says a $150,000 State Government grant for a custom-built washing/grading/packaging line will benefit the South West industry in that country. Fox Farms Pty Ltd owner Patrick Fox said his company had identified an opportunity overseas in Singapore and the Middle East to supply premium washed and brushed potatoes. “We are hoping that will relieve some of the pressure on the local market here at the moment as prices are at the lowest they have ever been,” he said. “We already currently export around three-and-a-half thousand tonne of seed potatoes and fresh processing potatoes. Mr Fox said he hoped the first shipment of washed potatoes would leave in August. “By the end of next year we expect to be exporting around 5000 tonne of fresh, washed potatoes,” he said. More

Video: Highlights of the ‘2018 Potato D.C. Fly-In’ event hosted in Washington

Image result for 2018 Potato D.C. Fly-In national potato councilDuring February 26 – March 1, potato growers and industry partners took part in the annual Potato D.C. Fly-In event in a push to make a difference on issues affecting the potato industry. The Potato D.C. Fly-In is aimed at advocating for the industry in the center of the action, the nation’s Capital. The Fly-In features speakers from the political and policy arenas who address key issues facing the potato industry. More than a hundred participants met face-to-face during the 2018 Fly-In with members of Congress and key staff to communicate industry priorities, and to convey real-life farming practices to influential administration officials and regulators on Capitol Hill. John Keeling, executive Vice President and CEO of the National Potato Council that hosted the event, said delegates addressed pressing issues such as trucking shortages, research matters, and trade – in particular the current NAFTA trade negotiations. Watch video summary 

European organizations looking to find alternative markets for surplus potatoes

The organisations UNPT (National Union of Potato Producers, France), ABS (Algemeen Boerensyndicaat, Flanders) and FWA (Walloon Federation of Agriculture) launched a project last year with the aim to find alternative markets in the North of France, Wallonia, and Flanders during seasons of an overproduction of potatoes. The Interreg GEPOS project was started last January and is being carried out with the support of the European Regional Development Fund. It will be finalised in July 2019. The organizations say that during the past 10 years, three seasons were marked by a very large surplus of potatoes produced, and consequently very bad prices. During these years, large volumes of “very cheap” potatoes were available, which made it necessary for growers to find alternative market outlets for surplus potatoes not absorbed by existing agreements.  Continue reading

‘Global potato demand up, US market share for frozen products down,’ says CEO

Image result for potatoes usaWorldwide consumption of potatoes is increasing, according to Blair Richardson, chief executive officer of Potatoes USA. “We’re seeing a reversal of the downward trend in global potato-product sales that we’ve been in since the 1970s,” Richardson related during a recent meeting of Wisconsin potato growers. “Not only are we seeing positive growth at the retail level, we’re also seeing significant increases in the food-service sector,” he said. “This year, for the first time ever, food-service sales will exceed retail sales.” Only about 10 percent of Americans love to cook anymore, he reported. “We love looking at food and we love eating but we just want somebody else to do the cooking. That’s why people are switching back to potatoes and why the demand for potatoes is increasing,” he said. “If you’re depending on other people to cook part, or all, of your meals, we fit well in all the cuisines that people are interested in.” Critical challenges, however, remain for the U.S. potato industry., including losing global market share in frozen potato products. More

US potato industry has a lot to lose if NAFTA scrapped, says Potato Council CEO

Idaho and potatoes are synonymous for good reason; the Gem State is the nation’s biggest producer of the vegetable. With the fate of NAFTA unknown as negotiators head into an eighth round of talks, the potato industry is monitoring those talks closely. Maintaining free trade in North America is crucial, says John Keeling, the CEO of the National Potato Council in Washington, D.C. “Right now we have duty-free access to Mexico for potato and potato products,” he says. “Keeping that access is critically important. If we were to lose that duty-free access, and, say Mexico continued a deal with Canada, we could face a 20 percent tariff differential.” Potatoes are a $1.2 billion industry in Idaho and provide thousands of jobs. Beyond farms, there are companies like Simplot and Lamb Weston that process the spuds. Keeling says his organization – and much of the agriculture sector – has a motto when it comes to NAFTA: “Do no harm.” More

Ahead of looming crisis, the Potato Mission ends in India’s Odisha state

Image result for Ahead of impending crisis, Potato Mission ends in OdishaWith yet another potato crisis looming over the state, the much-hyped potato mission that was launched to achieve self-sufficiency in potato production and enhance storage capacity for potatoes is all set to come to an abrupt end in March 2018. The three-year old mission by the government failed badly in meeting the targets of production as well as storage. Ironically in the last three years potato production has gone down. The area of total potato cultivation in the state also came down from 25,000 hectares in 2015 to 22,000 hectares in 2017. “The three year period of the Potato Mission is going to be over in March, but we are working on what can be done to increase the area of cultivation as it was targeted in the mission. Ultimately it was the choice of the farmers to opt for potato cultivation, which did not happen leading to reduction of areas,” said agriculture secretary Sourabh Garg. More

British potato packer group hopeful for recovery in potato prices

Produce Investments offered hope for a recovery in UK potato prices from multi-year lows, citing the potential for setbacks to 2018 sowings prospects helping a drawdown in inflated stockpiles. Produce Investments, one of the UK’s biggest potato packers, which counts major supermarket chains among its customers, signalled the potential for a drop in the country’s plantings this year, with a lower demand for seed. “Sales of seed potatoes were slower during the [July-to-December] period than in the prior year as the impact of a temporarily oversupplied marketplace reduced growers’ appetite for investment in the next year’s crop,” the group said. And the UK’s harsh and extended winter has slowed plantings what farmers do intend to undertake. Meanwhile, sowing of the main UK crop “has only just commenced and all indications are that spring will run later this season with planting progress delayed versus recent seasons”. Produce Investments is the parent company of one of the UK’s leading potato businesses, Greenvale AP Ltd. More