The Potato Industry Meets at BP2019 in Harrogate
BP2019 is due to open its gates between November 20-21, 2019 in Harrogate, the United Kingdom. In this preview interview with the organizers of BP2019 we discuss some of the highlights of the event and why it is the go-to destination for professionals active in all areas of the potato industry, from growing and handling to processing and retailing the crop.
What are the main reasons why potato industry players should consider attending BP2019? What sets the trade show apart from other events with a similar target?
Elsewhere around the world, large scale potato events tend to focus just on one part of the supply chain – for example, production-orientated agronomic events aimed at growers. Or processing equipment shows aimed at potato product manufacturers. BP2019 is genuinely different in that it brings the full supply chain together from seed to supermarket.
The event had similar origins to other shows – in fact starting life in the 1950s as mainly a harvesting demonstration, before expanding to cover agronomic inputs in general. However, from 2003 onwards the UK show started to widen its scope following potatoes all the way from breeding, through to all aspects of the post-farm business including handling, packaging and presentation. Now farm and post-farm industry exhibitors are present in roughly equal numbers.
So one of the unique features of the event is that as you wander the aisles, you’re as likely to encounter an expert in retail presentation, or hydro-cutting technology for the perfect chip, as you are a scientist specializing in trait selection or looking to deploy novel technologies to tackle a particular pest or disease.
The UK is also acknowledged as being among the global leaders in potato innovation, covering production, processing and ultimate product presentation. The BP2019 event is where all these innovations are showcased in one place.
How many participants are you expecting this year, compared to the last edition?
This will be the largest BP event yet with around 170 exhibitors of which around one in five is completely new to the show. Interestingly, the number of mainland European companies exhibiting is also up. This, perhaps, reflects a determination to continue trade whatever happens regarding Brexit. Of course, it may also reflect the fact that Brexit has affected exchange rates so it’s a particularly cost-effective year for mainland European exhibitors and visitors to attend the show.
Visitor numbers are generally around 6,000 including significant representatives from potato-producing nations around the globe. Visitor registration is still at its early stages, so it’s difficult to give specifics for 2019 as yet.
Can you offer some details about the seminars and other knowledge-sharing associate sessions which will be available during the event?
There will a range of knowledge-sharing sessions available during BP2019. For example, AHDB will host a seminar during event which will cover various topics from crop protection to carbohydrate trends. In particular, the first seminar of day 1 will be looking at AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) farm trials and demonstrations on diquat and linuron replacements.
Meanwhile, AHDB’s market intelligence team will be leading two sessions. The first, on day 1, will be looking at the European competitors and how their figures compare to the board’s to highlight similarities, differences and potential opportunities. Then, on day 2, the team will be back to present the first release of the GB Production Estimate for 2019 live – figures that are based on input from AHDB’s Grower Panel members and are offered as a guide to how the season will play out. Other lectures include Storage 2020: A Look at the Potato Store of the Future, Managing the Future of Your Business: Tools and skills for a successful succession and Millennials and Misinformation: Global Trends and the Implications for Carbohydrates.
Moreover, following a successful pilot during the last show, participants can also join the Trade & Innovation Hub which will once again be offering the opportunity for informal one-to-one discussions with experts on industry issues, innovation and international trade. Experts from the Agri-Tech Organization (ATO) from the Department of International Trade, Knowledge Transfer Network (KNT), the FPSA and the Potato Processors Association will be on site to answer any questions.
How do you evaluate the current state of the equipment and technologies for potato processing and how do you expect to see it evolve by the next edition? What are some of the trends that we are going to see on display at the event, regarding potato processing technology?
Labor shortages are already a particular feature of the UK processing sector and feared to get worse as our political and trading relationship with Europe changes. This is leading to an even greater drive for automation and also reduced maintenance requirements.
As one example of this, our silver sponsor Tong Engineering is promoting a newly launched barrel washer that specifically targets reduced maintenance downtime. For example, a simplified top-shaft design incorporating Cooper split bearings is now available as an option to speed maintenance by eliminating the need for shaft removal when changing bearings. Similarly, the options of a new heavy-duty direct-driven auger, newly designed floating-debris remover and a centralized greasing point, are all aimed at minimizing maintenance requirements. Other processing line equipment manufacturers will also be showcasing labor saving technologies at the event.
Another strong area of growth fueled by the need to reduce labor requirements is optical sorting. This also has the additional benefit of faster throughput than conventional manual picking lines. And it offers the ability to quickly adjust sorting tolerances according to the exact contract specification for the material being processed, whereas pickers on manual lines inevitably tend to pick at similar levels regardless of contract specifics, leading to potential waste. We believe companies such as Insort, Newtec, Shareteq, Tummers and Tomra will be displaying or running sorting technologies at the event.
Resource efficiency is also at the forefront of developments. So, for instance, another of our silver sponsors, Haith, will be launching its smallest and most efficient sample washer yet – requiring just 400 liters of water and 1.12KW of electricity. Meanwhile other environmental impacts, such as factory waste water management and by-product recovery, will be considered by specialists such as MSE Hiller and VAM WaterTech. Meanwhile, still on environmental matters, Euro-Stage V regulations have implications for emissions from factory forklift fleets and leading materials handling companies like Doosan, Linde and Toyota will be exhibiting their latest clean technologies.
Another area being highlighted across many exhibitors is the regulatory loss of active ingredients from the crop protection toolbox across Europe. New varieties are playing a key role in dealing with this – for example with enhanced blight or nematode resistance – and uptake has been particularly rapid across the processing sector. Many of the plant breeders at the show will be highlighting their processing varieties and processors such as McCain will also be discussing variety development.
The loss of the sprout suppressant CIPC is also a major challenge for processing because it affects the ability to store potatoes and achieve year-round, locally-grown supply to processing factories. The issue is particularly difficult for the processing sector as a number of the alternatives that may work in the fresh sector cannot be deployed in processing stores because of the temperature regimes required by acrylamide reduction regulations. A wide variety of specialist potato storage companies will be exhibiting and presenting their solutions to the challenges ahead.
Crop traceability also continues to be a significant issue and we believe Mercian, which specializes in supplying crisp processors, will be exhibiting further developments to its pioneering tracking and traceability web-based software.
The PotatoBusiness team will be attending the event and is looking forward to meeting you on-site.