IssuesFall 2014At the Root

At the Root

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People News

MCCAIN NAMES NEW CANADIAN PRESIDENT

McCain Foods Limited has named Shai Altman as its new Canadian president effective Oct. 20. He brings to McCain more than 15 years of leadership experience in both mature and developing markets with expertise in the development and direction of growth strategies. Altman joins McCain from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, where he held the position of Wrigley Canada president since 2009. Altman replaces Darryl Rowe, the former McCain Foods Canadian president who stepped down last December.

NEW EUROPATAT SECRETARY GENERAL

The board of Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, has announced the appointment of Raquel Izquierdo de Santiago as the new secretary general of the association. She succeeds Frédéric Rosseneu, who held the position at Europatat for the last four years. According to Europatat, Izquierdo de Santiago has extensive experience in European affairs. He has served as the Food Law, Nutrition and Health director at Freshfel (the European Fresh Produce Association) as well as the deputy secretary general for the World Apple and Pear Association.

WPC APPOINTS NEW STAFF

David Thompson, president and CEO of World Potato Congress Inc., has appointed Ron Gall of New Zealand, Nora Olsen of the United States and Anne Fowlie of Canada as members of the WPC board of directors. The three eminent individuals are recognized worldwide for their contributions to the development and growth of the global potato industry. WPC has also announced the appointment of Peter VanderZaag, president of Ontario’s Sunrise Potato Storage Ltd., to the organization’s international advisory committee. VanderZaag will track and report potato-related issues throughout East Asia and China, and offer advice to the WPC regarding its programs and initiatives.

Potato Science Chair Established

Research capacity in Alberta’s potato industry will be significantly enhanced due to a $1 million investment in the University of Lethbridge by a consortium of association and industry partners. The U of L will receive the funds over five-year period from the Potato Growers of Alberta, McCain Foods, ConAgra Foods’ Lamb Weston, and Cavendish Farms to establish a chair in potato science. “Growers and processors identified a need to expand research in this critical field,” says Terence Hochstein, PGA executive director. “There are only a handful of researchers dedicated to the discipline throughout Western Canada, and we expect this new chair will greatly enhance and complement the current capacity that exists.”

Product News

NEW INSECTICIDE APPROVED FOR VEGETABLE CROPS

Maximum residue limits for flubendiamide, the active ingredient in Bayer CropScience’s Belt insecticide, have been established in Canada. With this new MRL in place, Canada joins the list of major markets with established import tolerances for Belt, including the European Union and Japan. “The new Canadian MRLs for Belt are very exciting for fruit and vegetable growers,” says Lee Hall, Bayer CropScience insecticide product manager. “With this registration, growers exporting to Canada are now equipped with an additional tool to protect their valuable crops from costly worm damage, increasing yield and profit potential.”

POST-HARVEST FUNGICIDE HELPS TUBERS IN STORAGE

Syngenta Canada Inc. has introduced Stadium post-harvest fungicide, a quality preservation tool for potatoes during storage. When used as part of a full-season, integrated disease prevention program, Stadium helps prevent the spread of two devastating storage diseases, silver scurf and fusarium dry rot. “Crop loss during storage can be severe,” says Eric Phillips, Syngenta Canada fungicides and insecticides product lead. “Stadium helps preserve tuber quality after harvest by controlling the spread of economically significant storage diseases.”

Business News

MCCAIN PLANT CLOSURE IN P.E.I.

McCain Foods is closing its french fry facility in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., at the end of October. A shift in the market for french fries and a stronger Canadian dollar are cited as reasons for the plant closure. “We were shocked and disappointed by the news from McCain,” said P.E.I. Potato Board Chairman Gary Linkletter in reaction to the news. “As is the situation in several parts of North America, contract volumes at McCain’s P.E.I. plant were reduced over the past few years. We understand that global french fry demand has increased significantly during 2014, and we had hoped that McCain would use the excess processing capacity in Borden to supply some of that expanded demand. Instead, we’re now dealing with the loss of the plant.”

DEWULF PLANS TO ACQUIRE MIEDEMA

The Dewulf Group has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire Miedema, a developer and producer of modern technology for storage, sorting, transport and planting of potatoes. With this acquisition, the company says the Dewulf range of potato and vegetable machines will be strengthened, positioning the firm as a global leader in this segment of the agricultural machinery manufacturing market. The acquisition is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.

AGRICO ACQUIRES MAJORITY STAKE IN PARKLAND

The Dutch potato co-operative Agrico has purchased more shares in its joint investment of Parkland Seed Potatoes Ltd., granting it a majority stake in the Edmonton-based seed potato company. Agrico started to work together with Parkland Seed Potatoes in 1997. In 2005 Agrico bought 25 per cent of Parkland shares and increased its share holdings to 49 per cent in 2008. The Dutch co-operative says the company’s growth strategy and the opportunities in North America have spurred Agrico to acquire a majority stake by increasing its Parkland share holdings by an additional 21 per cent, totaling 70 per cent.

TRADE ACCESS INDENTIFIED AS CRITICAL TO INDUSTRY

A report published by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute states that Canada’s agri-food sector is competing in an increasingly complex trade world where significant export success depends on the timely negotiation of preferential trade access and achieving new ways to reach consumers in foreign markets. The paper notes that trade agreements, while important, are only one part of a series of integrated steps that must be taken to achieve export success. Firms must also overcome often-restrictive non-tariff barriers, other regulatory requirements and stiffening supply chain standards, as well as fully comprehending diverse consumer market niches to achieve immediate and longer-term success.

Industry News

Reduced Health Risks in Older Women

Postmenopausal women who eat foods higher in potassium are less likely to have strokes and die than women who eat less potassium-rich foods, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. “Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables,” says the study’s senior author, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, a distinguished professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology and Population Health in New York. “Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women’s risk of stroke, but also death. Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. Foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans.”

SCIENTISTS BREED BLUE AND PINK POTATOES

Shoppers in Belarus might soon be tempted by new breeds of potato with blue and pink flesh. It’s part of a national effort by Belarusian scientists to develop new kinds of spuds with non-traditional colours. “There’ll be blue, pink and purple potatoes that will taste as good as the more common white-yellow ones,” says Ivan Kalyadka, who heads the Research Centre for Potato Cultivation and Horticulture at the Belarusian Academy of Sciences.

Vineland Receives $1.1 Million Investment

The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland, Ont., will receive more than $1.1 million to help producers tap into the growing market for world crops. The funding will go towards research aimed at increasing seasonal field production of oriental long eggplants and okra, evaluating the use of greenhouse technologies and developing sweet potato varieties adapted to Canadian conditions. With an evolving consumer base in Canada and the U.S., it is hoped the project will help boost domestic production of exotic vegetables, leading to new opportunities for the horticultural sector.