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     PEOPLE NEWS

     New Appointments at World Potato Congress

    Two Canadians have been appointed to the World Potato Congress board of directors. The appointees are Peter VanderZaag, president of Sunrise Potato Ltd. in Alliston, Ont., and John Jamieson, Deputy Minister of the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. In addition, André Jooste, CEO of Potatoes South Africa, has been appointed to the WPC’s international advisory committee. The next WPC, which works promote sharing of information on all aspects of the global potato industry, will be held in Cusco, Peru in 2018.

    New Research Chair in Potato Science

    The University of Lethbridge has appointed Dmytro Yevtushenko as Research Chair in Potato Science. Born in central Ukraine, Yevtushenko completed a PhD at the Institute of Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering in Kiev and has studied the potato for more than 25 years. “This is a dream job, tailored for me,” said Yevtushenko. The PGA, McCain Foods, Lamb Weston and Cavendish Farms made a $1 million investment over five years to establish the Chair in Potato Science at the U of L. Western Canada has few researchers dedicated to the potato industry and the new chair will enhance and expand the current capacity. “Dmytro’s arrival in southern Alberta is a result of unprecedented collaboration between the potato industry and the university,” said David Hill, director of development with the Southern Alberta Agriculture Program.

    PRODUCT NEWS

    New Wireworm Control Method in Europe

    The European-funded INBIOSOIL project has developed a new, eco-friendly method to control wireworm in potatoes that can be used in conventional and organic systems. The method uses special capsules called ATRACAP, which contain a strain of an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks specific pest insects and can reduce chemical pesticide use on European farms. The German firm BIOCARE recently began producing the capsules. They’re aimed at controlling wireworms, currently regarded as one of the most pressing problems affecting potato production in Europe. “We expect ATRACAP to become a standard control strategy for both organic and conventional farmers,” said Stefan Vidal, INBIOSOIL project co-ordinator.

    Second Generation Innate Potatoes Receive Safety Clearance

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has completed its food and feed safety assessment of the J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate potatoes. The FDA concluded that these Russet Burbank Generation 2 potatoes are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters, from any other potato or potato-derived food or feed currently on the market. Simplot still needs to complete its registration with the Environmental Protection Agency for these potatoes before introducing them for sale in the U.S. marketplace. Simplot’s second generation of Innate potatoes contains four benefits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers: reduced bruising and black spots; reduced asparagine; resistance to late blight pathogens; and enhanced cold storage capability. These benefits were achieved by adapting genes from wild and cultivated potatoes.

    INDUSTRY NEWS

    U.S. Potato Board Aiming for More Salad Bars in Schools

    The U.S. Potato Board is working with the United Fresh Start Foundation to put more salad bars in schools across the country. The industry has donated 84 salad bars, which were matched by the board. Together with additional bars donated by the board, a total of 180 salad bars have been placed in schools, the most salad bars for any sector of the produce industry, according to a potato board press release. Last year, CEO Blair Richardson challenged the industry to get involved and donate 300 salad bars to schools each year. “That was a very lofty goal, but I think if we can do somewhere between 200 and 300 a year, that would be fantastic,” said John Toaspern, chief marketing officer with the potato board.

    Study Illustrates Potato Benefits for Kids

    Potatoes tend to be well-liked by kids and can be a good source of potassium and dietary fiber for children aged one to three years, a U.S. study has found. It showed potatoes provide eight per cent of the recommended daily value of fibre — important for growth, development and overall health of children. “It’s important that consumption of all vegetables, particularly those that are good sources of potassium and dietary fiber, be encouraged in children,’ said Theresa A. Nicklas from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas in the paper published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. “Dietary habits established during childhood often transition to adulthood, so it is hugely important to encourage children to enjoy vegetables as part of the diet in order to reap the nutrition and health benefits provided by vegetables into adulthood.”

     Science Behind Great Tasting Potato Chips

    U.S. scientists who studied the microstructure of a potato after it’s been fried claim to have found the best method for creating potato chips. Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign looked at how the porosity of a chip altered when slices are dunked in the fryer. The team found the number and size of pores in the potato increased the longer it fried, allowing it to absorb more oil and taste even better. “Microstructural properties play a key role to affect oil uptake and product quality during frying of foods,” reads the study published in Journal of Food Science.

     Potato Effluent Turned into Fertilizer

    Scientists in China have developed a way of making fertilizer from waste water discharged by potato processing plants, solving a pollution problem which has held back the country’s potato ambitions. China sees potatoes as a new staple food to ensure food security, but protein-rich water discharged by starch processors, a major buyer of the spuds, has been blamed for polluting rivers and lakes. A team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou Institute of Chemical Physics, developed a process that removes starch, fibre and protein from the effluent while retaining high levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, making it suitable for fertilizer purposes in irrigation water. A four-year test has shown the water harmless to crops, and three starch companies are now using the technology to purify the discharge from their plants.

    Continued Growth for Belgian Processing Industry

    The remarkable growth of the Belgian potato-processing sector in the past few decades continued last year, according to the annual overview by Belgapom, Belgium’s association for the potato trade and processing sectors. The country’s processing sector experienced 4.4 per cent growth in 2015 compared to 2014, with just under four million tonnes of potatoes processed into fresh or frozen fries, mashed potato products, crisps, precooked potatoes, flakes and granulate.

    Native Potatoes Identified in Peru

    A team of researchers from Peru’s National Institute of Agricultural Innovation has identified 130 varieties of native potato, according to news reports. The research project is part of Peru’s effort to catalogue the different types of potato and its classifications. The data collected will be added to the National Registry of the Native Potato of Peru, and is part of a plan by the South American nation to develop new potato varieties. The International Potato Center (CIP) is among the three agencies that have signed agreements to fund this research.

     Submissions to Industry News are welcome. Email Spud Smart editor Mark Halsall at [email protected].

     

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