British Potato Industry event BP2011 expects a record number of visitors on November 23 and 24.
The free-to-enter potato industry event to be held in Harrogate, Yorkshire, is expected to attract more than 6,000 delegates.
Scottish potato seed grower Alistair Melrose calls BP2011 ‘unmissable'. The Angus-based company director of A J Allan Seed Potatoes views the event as a unique opportunity to meet with customers and agronomists.
"Everyone involved in the industry goes to BP. All the major seed houses are there, all the machinery is in one place - and the social life is fantastic too," he says. "There is something of interest going on all the time, from helpful seminars to machinery demonstrations."
The event is an occasion where everyone in the potato industry can meet customers, suppliers, buyers, speak to experts in the potato industry and see the latest research and developments affecting potato businesses.
The seed potato industry recently announced a record-breaking figure of 100,000 tonnes of seed exports. "The rigorous standards applied to seed potatoes are the reason for the exceptionally high quality British seed produced," says Mark Prentice, Potato Council head of seed and export. "BP2011 offers ware growers the opportunity to meet seed suppliers and discuss their seed requirements for the coming season.
"Furthermore, Potato Council is undertaking the first Seed Satisfaction Survey since 2001. All levy-payers who buy seed, whether they are seed or ware growers, should complete the Potato Council-commissioned survey, as the industry needs to know whether growers are able to source easily the varieties they need and if quality meets requirements.
"As seed is the foundation block that determines a crop's potential and, as a result, the business's profitability, feedback is vital to be able to prioritise and develop where it will be most beneficial. "In addition, seed is the most costly production input, so we need to be really sure quality and availability correspond to demand."
The updated variety database will also be shown at the Potato Council stand and ware growers are encouraged to use it to examine recent changes in classification of some of the popular varieties.
Sustainability is an area that concerns the whole industry, with the whole supply chain seeking to make cost savings in addition to reducing the carbon footprint where possible. BP2011 is focusing on sustainability, looking at practical solutions to growing consumer concerns such as carbon footprints and food miles, waste, biodiversity, sustainable sourcing and water management.
"Most large retailers and processors are already looking at these areas and requesting voluntary measures from their suppliers. We must also be aware that these may be replaced by statutory measures in the not too distant future," says Potato Council director Dr Rob Clayton.
"You must measure the resources being used so you can decide where to make savings."
The Cool Farm Tool that measures the levels of greenhouse gases produced throughout the crop production process will be showcased on the Potato Council stand. A potato-specific version is currently being tested in on-farm trials with two of the UK's largest potato buyers.
Other areas of interest at BP2011 include market information and updates on the different potato marketing campaigns in addition to technical seminars on the Potato Council stand.
BP2011 is hosted by Potato Council and sponsored by Branston, on November 23 and 24.