Saturday, 19 April 2014

Spring Cleaning Time!

Getting a storage facility ready for the new crop includes several steps, among which: cleaning, servicing and repairs, and ensuring proper adjustments and placement of equipment.

Potato Prices Soar in Australia Due to Extreme Weather

  Bad weather has caused the potato shortage currently affecting Australia, which is reflected in increased costs for washed potatoes.

Great Place to Work Ranks Tomra in Norway’s Top 10

Global human resources consulting, research and training firm specialising in organisational trust Great Place to Work® has recently announced the lists of best workplaces in Norway and names Tomra 7th best medium-sized workplace in

Wind Turbine to Power Greenvale Potato Packaging Plant

Greenvale, the UK’s leading supplier of fresh potatoes, and renewable energy company, Triodos Renewables Plc, announced the completion of a deal to build a wind turbine.

India Potato Expo Starts

India Potato Expo Starts

The international exhibition on potato production, storage and processing technologies launches its thir...

Sochi Winter Olympics  Fuelled by Lamb Weston Potatoes

Sochi Winter Olympics Fue...

An extensive number of food and beverage outlets in and around Sochi will be serving Lamb Weston premium...

Interpack 2014 Preview: New Event Introduced

Interpack 2014 Preview: Ne...

  Components for processing and packaging have a new section dedicated to suppliers at Interpack, which i...

Key Technology Appoints Cedric Simmons as Area Sales Manager for the Southeast United States

Key Technology Appoints Ce...

Key Technology announced its new area sales manager for the Southeast U.S., Cedric Simmons – who is res...

Great Place to Work Ranks Tomra in Norway’s Top 10

Great Place to Work Ranks ...

Global human resources consulting, research and training firm specialising in organisational trust Grea...

Potato Prices Soar in Australia Due to Extreme Weather

Potato Prices Soar in Aust...

  Bad weather has caused the potato shortage currently affecting Australia, which is reflected in incr...

Wind Turbine to Power Greenvale Potato Packaging Plant

Wind Turbine to Power Gree...

Greenvale, the UK’s leading supplier of fresh potatoes, and renewable energy company, Triodos Renewable...

Key Technology Showcases Digital Sorting and Specialised Conveying at interpack

Key Technology Showcases D...

Key Technology will exhibit its Python laser sorter and Impulse® electromagnetic conveyor at interpack ...

GEA Food Solutions at Interpack : ‘We Process and Pack It All’

GEA Food Solutions at Inte...

GEA Food Solution’s equipment on display on stand B09 in Hall 7a at interpack reinforces the statement ...

 Kiremko’s Sliver Remover Gets Upgraded

Kiremko’s Sliver Re...

The Kiremko sliver remover has undergone a major innovatio...

Lamb Weston Introduces Sweet ‘n Savour Fries Range

Lamb Weston Introduc...

Lamb Weston has introduced a new Sweet Potato Fries range: S...

Cutting Equipment Delivers Themed Potato Slices

Cutting Equipment De...

Tummers Methodic aims to meet theme potato seasonal trends b...

tna To Highlight High Performance Packaging Solutions at Interpack 2014

tna To Highlight Hig...

Visitors attending Interpack in May 8-14 will be able to e...

Key Technology Introduces Sort-to-Grade for All G6 Optical Sorters

Key Technology Intro...

Key Technology announces its new potato strips Sort-to-Gra...

Developing Tailor Made Warehouses at CeMAT Stands

Developing Tailor Ma...

International system integrator viastore systems will be p...

Spring Cleaning Time!

Spring Cleaning Time...

Getting a storage facility ready for the new crop includes...

New Intelligent Storage Automation

New Intelligent Stor...

Omnivent launches OmniCuro, its new storage automation ava...

All in Check

All in Check

The longevity of potatoes in storage is dependent on many ...

Making Things Work

Making Things Work

Sprouting and rotting tubers can be the bane of any potato...

There is another blight facing the potato industry in the European Union and that is legislation which threatens the dwindling number of potato farmers.

The potato has had its ups and downs since it first came to Europe in the 16th century. The French aristocracy would seek its blossom flowers as the hottest fashion accessory, while Ireland suffered the most notorious famine in Europe's history due to an onslaught of disease. For astronauts, it was worthy enough to grow in space stations. And for the Food and Agriculture Agency of the United Nations, it is the vegetable of the year: 2008 is all about potatoes.

Nonetheless, European potato production will soon face one more obstacle. Legislation is being discussed in Brussels that may remove, in the worst case scenario, up to 80 per cent of pesticides currently used from the market.
It is not easy for Philip Huxtable, director of a farming business in Yorkshire, to imagine the consequences of that scenario.
"It sounds unreal", he explains, "but one thing is certain: without pesticides there will be no large scale production of potatoes in the UK. If we lose up to 85 per cent of pesticides, a lot of people will be getting hungry."

Potatoes Cosmetic Appeal

Growers are more conscious than ever of the quality of potatoes, knowing that people will not buy their produce if they have even the slightest blemishes.

Huxtable has been in the potato business enough time to experience this shift in consumer demand. "In 1976 when I first started, whatever you grew, the market would take it. Today the product specifications are very, very tight. If you do not comply, you do not sell your potatoes."

Because of new trends in the way we eat, the market for potatoes has rapidly diversified, meeting demand for ready to eat meals and processed potato products, such as crisps and frozen chips. The British Food Standard Agency states that each food retail outlet must satisfy specific quality criteria, ‘including: variety, size, appearance, dry matter, fry colour, absence of sprouting, diseases, pest damage or disorders'.

But the risk of losing quality, and quantity, is present at every stage of the growing process.
"It is not that potatoes are difficult to grow, but it is very easy to get it wrong" adds the Yorkshire farmer, "We need to control and minimise the risk of losing our yields from the very beginning."

Modern Business Challenges

Potato farmers have a long list of pressures on their shoulders: unpredictable weather patterns, intense rains, a rise in farm labour costs, high consumer expectations, and the threat of the fungus ‘blight' that is capable of destroying entire fields in 24 hours.

As a result, the number of growers in the UK has decreased significantly over the years. The British Potato Council data shows a 70 per cent decrease in registered potato farmers since 1997. Reducing the number of pesticides in the market will represent one more major obstacle for potato growers.

"This legislation will leave farmers with nearly no solutions to protect their crops from pests and diseases. The use of fungicides by potato farmers is already strictly regulated. Further reductions of available fungicides, or imposed use limitations, may result in devastating losses. This is a serious threat," commented Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association, ECPA.

In March, Huxtable's farms have just delivered the potatoes used for crisp production. The production process involved storage in a dark room for six months, closely monitored for fungi and the sprouts that appear if exposed to light.
"This type of potato", said Mr. Huxtable, "is only suitable for the crisp market. If the factories do not find them good enough, there is no other place where we can sell them. They are not appropriate to sell in supermarkets. You could boil them for half an hour and they would still be hard as a rock. We need fungicides and sprout suppressants. We just need them."

Potatoes are one of the main staples in Europe's diet, to the extent that each European consumes about 93 kg per year; specifically in the UK, each person consumes 114 kg of potatoes per year.

Because of this important role, independent experts from the British Pesticide Safety Directory monitor potatoes, with samples taken from processors, wholesalers, packers, farms and pots to test traces of residues. None of the 2006 results were above the Maximum Residues Limits.

"Consumers can eat potatoes without worrying. If only they knew the attention to detail and safety that goes into growing them," adds Huxtable.

Last Line of Defence

The company Huxtable runs is already implementing ‘integrated pest management' techniques that combine the use of pesticides with biological solutions. Potato fields are in a rotational planning schedule, grown in a field only one year out of six to maintain good soil conditions and hygiene. Close attention is paid to seeds' health to decrease the need for pesticide treatment in the long run.

"We decide on pesticide applications on a field by field basis. We, as farmers and agronomists, are qualified to make this judgement and we decide very carefully. Pesticides are not cheap and the profit margins in potato growing are slim. But if we ought to do the job right, we need to use them, sparingly", adds Huxtable.

Europe, alongside Asia, is the world's major potato producer with a harvested area of 18,383,460 hectares. What will the upcoming legislation represent for the future of potato farming in Europe, in a world where demand for food is increasing in line with population growth, markets are diversifying and consumption is going global?

In the short term, consumers are likely to see consequences in their shopping basket. Data from the British Potato Council shows a strong linkage between price and production levels. Their findings indicate that a one per cent increase in production tends to a five per cent drop in price. On the contrary, high price years occur when production decreases. According to Nomisma, an Italian research Institute, in the worst case scenario, should the proposed legislation go through, European potato production will decline by 33 per cent in 2020. Will Europeans be willing to pay more for European-grown potatoes? The laws of supply and demand will place EU farmers at a disadvantage to compete with cheaper imported potatoes.

According to FAO, "the potato's positive attributes, its high nutritional value and potential to boost incomes have not received the attention they deserve from governments. National and international stakeholders need to place potato higher on the development agenda".

That is not happening in the heart of the EU. With European legislators poised to add one more obstacle to potato farming, people like Huxtable, committed to the crop despite the many challenges, may be part of a dying breed. 

Taking up the Cause

Commenting on the issue, Roman Cools of the European Potato Processors' Association said a letter had been sent on behalf of the associatiuon (formerly the UEITP) to all European MPs and members of the Environment Commission.
He said: "This exercise by the European Parliament could result into a serious drop in potato yields (and the unability to grow other crops in the EU), which would, of course, seriously affect the trade position of the European potato processing industry on the world market.

"Where the EU potato processing sector has seen a strengthened position during the latest years, this would rapidly turn into a negative trade balance.

"Food safety and the safety of the environment are absolute priorities for the European potato processing industry. Quality systems, including full registrations of the agricultural activities, warning systems to reduce the use of pesticides, integrated pest management and sampling schemes to control the raw material are all tools to assure the final product. "But all these arguments seem to have been ignored by the MPs."

In the letter, the EPPA said it was alarmed at the results of then impact assessment carried out by the UK Pesticides Safety Directorate which considers the impact on UK agriculture of the so-called cut-off criteria for active substances. The cut-off criteria is a provision from the revision proposal which foresees to eliminate substances exclusively on the basis of their toxicological properties rather than judging the risk associated with actual use.

"It does NOT take account of the fact that a large number of substances which would be affected have passed the strict risk assessments currently in place and hence were considered safe for consumer, operator and the environment in both their original field safety trials and again by EFSA during their re-evaluation since 2000," the EPPA wrote.

Banning these substances would, the EPPA wrote, have a ‘devastating impact'. The EPPA represents the interests of the EU's potato processing industries. Last season, the European potato processing industry processed 11,9million tonnes of potatoes and had a turnover of €10,663m. Approximately 25,800 people are directly employed in this sector.

VM - Shopping cart

 x 
Cart empty

Events Calendar

Last month April 2014 Next month
S M T W T F S
week 14 1 2 3 4 5
week 15 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
week 16 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
week 17 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
week 18 27 28 29 30

Latest Events

Apr 2nd - Apr 4th
CPMA Convention + Trade Show
Apr 18th - Apr 19th
China Potato
May 8th - May 14th
Interpack
May 22nd - May 23rd
Europatat Congress
Jul 6th - Jul 11th
EAPR 2014
Jul 27th - Jul 31st
The Potato Association of America 2014 Annual Meeting
Aug 7th - Aug 7th
Potatoes in Practice

Trade Media Solutions S.R.L. | 1-5 G-ral David Praporgescu Str., 1st Floor, District 2, 020965 Bucharest, Romania.
Tel: +40 (0) 21 31 590 31  | E-mail: office@mediatrade.ro