Monday, 22 October 2018


Last week, Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, celebrated its annual Congress in Brussels, Belgium, with the aim of creating a meeting for all potato professionals on the edge of a new potato season.

On Thursday May 3, the 70th Europatat Assembly General took place and a new Board was elected by the membership to channel and lead the Association for the coming next years. Gilles Fontaine was elected as new president, Domenico Citterio as vice-president and Heero Gramsma as treasurer of Europatat. In addition, during the AGM held at the Hotel Amigo in Brussels, the accounts and a new Europatat Strategy were approved by the members.This Strategic Plan, describing the vision and mission of Europatat, as well as the key fields of action and priorities for the next three-year period (2018-2020), will serve as the guideline for the association to serve the interest of the sector during the coming years.

Gilles Fontaine, new Europatat President stated: “I would like to thank all Europatat members for the trust placed in me. As the new Europatat President I undertake to raise the voice of our organization on the international stage and to represent the collective interest of all members as part of the new strategy recently launched by the board.”

Sustainable Development Goals

Under the slogan “Potatoes: a healthy, sustainable and responsible sector”, the annual event focused on the many assets of the sector in the areas of health, nutrition, sustainability and social corporate responsibility, and how they feed into the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations.

The keynote speaker in the morning session, digital strategist and reputation management specialist Christophe Ginisty, gave to the participants an insight about social media trends and the most looked after consumers, known as millennials: “Try to educate, partner and listen to your audience” he highlighted. He also pointed out the need for associations of diversifying messages on the different social media platforms and the role of ensuring that people are still “critical” thinking.

Other notable speakers in the morning included Tania Santivañez, Regional Agricultural Officer at the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, who spoke about the contribution of potatoes to food security and the reduction of poverty in developing countries and called for building strategic alliances to meet the

Sustainable Development Goal number 14, “responsible consumption and production”. Toine Timmermans, coordinator of the REFRESH Program, warned the audience about the need for potato companies to include food security and the fight against food waste as part of their business model. Closing the session

Health and sustainability in the potato sector go hand in hand, Loes Neven, from the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living (VIGeZ), presented the new inverted food pyramid which demonstrates the multiple health benefits of potatoes.

The afternoon session, People and Community at the cornerstone of the potato sector, was opened by Tine Delva, Policy Adviser at the Secretariat-General of the European Commission in charge of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She welcomed the focus put this year by the Europatat Congress on the Sustainable Development Goals and called on private companies to act and to invest on a sustainable production model. Lastly, three case studies were presented by Jolanda Soons-Dings (LambWeston Meijer), Gilles Fontaine (Desmazières) and Arnaud Delacour (UNPT) on how potato processors, traders and producers are already taking the lead in the key areas of health, sustainability and responsibility of the business.

Michael Scannell, director for the Food Chain, stakeholder and International Relations in the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission, highlighted the good position in which the potato sector is situated in relation with different food safety matters: “You shouldn’t hide the high values and strengthens of the potato sector!” he concluded.

With more than 90 participants from 21 different countries, the Europatat Congress 2018 and side events have received a positive feedback. 

Photo caption: Gilles Fontaine, new Europatat president, and Jos Muyshondt, former Europatat president. 

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