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Industry News Fall 2019

PEOPLE NEWS

Ivan Noonan Receives Certificate of Appreciation from UPGC

Ivan Noonan was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation as a founding co-chair of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), which was formed in 2006. He was presented with the certificate of appreciation by UPGC chairman, Ray Keenan, in Charlottetown in August.

Before his retirement, Noonan was the general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board from 1994 to 2008 and then general manager of Food Trust P.E.I., before he fully retired this year from Mid-Isle Farms. Noonan was a driving force behind many initiatives that have been beneficial for the continued success of the potato industry. One of these was the formation of the UPGC. 

McCain Foods Recognizes Toner Produce Ltd. As Champion Grower

Toner Produce Ltd. of Grand Falls, N.B., was named the 2018 – 2019 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Grand Falls during the 45th Annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held Aug. 20. This year, approximately 170 guests gathered at Centre E. & P. Senechal in Grand Falls, N.B., to celebrate the top growers and to recognize their hard work over the past year.

Luc Gervais, Tommy Toner and Jessica Toner were delighted to be announced as the Champion Grower. They have been contracting with McCain for 24 years, held the top 10 position 11 times, and have been named Champion Grower twice. The Toners were very proud to receive this honour in recognition of their efforts. They were looking forward to bringing the trophy to their staff to demonstrate the hard work done by everyone on the farm does not go unnoticed. 

McCain Foods Recognizes Guest Farms Ltd. As Champion Grower

Guest Farms Ltd. of Holmesville, N.B., was named the 2018 – 2019 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Florenceville-Bristol during the 46th Annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held Aug. 22. This year, approximately 200 guests gathered at Northern Carleton Civic Center in Florenceville-Bristol to celebrate the top growers and to recognize their hard work over the past year.

Simon and Matthew Guest were thrilled to be announced as the Champion Grower. They have been contracting with McCain for 24 years, held the top 10 position once before, and this is their first time winning the Champion Grower title. When asked why he farms, Simon Guest gave a simple answer: it’s in his blood. “I live on the farm I grew up on,” Simon explained, referring to his 250-acre farm. “I tried a few other things, but they just weren’t what I wanted to do. I always came back to farming.” 

McCain Foods Recognizes Lajoie Farms

The McCain Top 10 Potato Growers were recognized at the annual McCain Grower Banquet at the Stone Ridge Event Center in Presque Isle, Maine, on Aug. 21. More than 300 guests were invited to celebrate the 2018 growing season and recognize the top 10 growers and their achievements.

The 2018 – 2019 Champion Grower Award was earned by Lajoie Farms of Cyr Plantation. They have been growing potatoes for McCain since the development of the company. Field manager Bart Bradbury estimates they have hauled close to 60,000 truckloads of potatoes just for McCain in their 40-plus years of collaboration. Mike and Phil Lajoie have decided to move into retirement and have ended their farming career with a lot to be proud of. 

Clement Lalancette Recognized by UPGC

Clement Lalancette recently retired as a founding director of the UPGC, which was formed in 2006. He was presented with a certificate of appreciation by UPGC chairman, Ray Keenan, in Quebec City in July. Lalancette is recognized for his outstanding leadership and dedication to the Canadian potato industry as a director of UPGC representing the Quebec Potato Producers Association.

Lalancette was the general manager of the Quebec Potato Producers Association and a strong proponent for Quebec growers. His focus was always on better returns, improved profitability, and producer sustainability. UPGC and the potato industry wish him well in his retirement. 

HZPC Americas Grows with New Employees

Over the last two years, HZPC has built a new business development team for the North American market. Led by Jeff Scramlin, this team focuses efforts in the food service and retail sectors. The existing HZPC Americas operations team in Charlottetown, P.E.I., successfully produces, sells, and licences HZPC potato varieties in the United States and Canada. 

Recently, a corporate decision was made to merge the functionalities of both teams. Effective Sept. 1, Scramlin became the managing director of the combined HZPC Americas team, while manager Fred Koops will continue to strengthen services for and partnerships with the key clients of HZPC Americas. 

Douglas Picketts started in July as sales manager for the HZPC Americas office in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Picketts has been working for 10 years in international sales and market development in the agricultural and financial industries. Greg Meeker joined in August as director of business development. A 30-year professional chef, Meeker brings his food passion and culinary knowledge to drive food service growth. The HZPC Americas team now comprises 10 people working together thru the entire potato value chain to serve clients in North America, both directly and indirectly. HZPC is delighted to welcome both new team members. 

WPC Announces New International Advisor

The World Potato Congress (WPC) is pleased to announce Mr. Lu, Xiaoping has accepted the position to become the WPC’S newest international advisor. Lu joined the International Potato Center (CIP) in May 2011 and has since been working as its deputy director general and director of the CIP-China Centre for Asia and Pacific (CCCAP), a regional arm of CIP. His primary responsibility is heading the start-up work of CCCAP, the first major presence in China of an international agricultural research organization under the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). 

BUSINESS NEWS

HZPC Launches Brand Update

HZPC recently launched its brand update. The renewed branding expresses the heritage as well as ambition of the network company. For more than 120 years, the company has been in the business of seed potatoes. They share knowledge and partner up to develop new varieties that live up to the climatological, commercial and cultural demands the industry faces. The new look and feel appears strong as well as simple, combining heritage with innovation. 

Cavendish Farms Announces New Potato Research Centre in P.E.I.

Cavendish Farms announced the construction of a new potato research and plant breeding centre in New Annan, P.E.I. The $6-million facility, fully funded by the company, is an investment in the sustainability of P.E.I.’s potato industry.

As witnessed over the last two summers, the growing season is changing with hotter temperatures and less precipitation at critical times. This is a real challenge for P.E.I. growers and places the potato crops at risk. The new research facility, with the state-of-the-art greenhouse, will allow Cavendish Farms to conduct important research year-round. Different lines of potatoes with promising traits such as superior yields and a reduced environmental footprint specific to soil, climatic and seasonal conditions on Prince Edward Island will be evaluated. The centre will open in 2020 and create four full-time and up to 12 seasonal jobs. 

McCain Foods Invests in its First Frozen French Fry Factory in Brazil

McCain Foods announced its investment in its first French fry factory in Brazil. With this investment, McCain continues its expansion strategy in the Brazilian market. After acquiring 49 per cent of Forno de Minas, which specializes in bread snacks and appetizers in 2018, and 70 per cent of Sérya, a Brazilian company specializing in preformed potato products in May 2019, McCain is now focused on its main growth category: frozen French fries.

With an investment of approximately US$ 100 million, the intention is to build the new plant in the city of Araxá, in Minas Gerais State, which is where Sérya is situated. With this project McCain expects to generate 150 direct jobs, 450 indirect jobs and positively impact approximately 750 farmers and agricultural professionals. The new plant in Brazil, due to be opened in the first half of 2021, will significantly increase McCain’s production capacity in Latin America. 

McCain Foods Invests $12 Million in its Florenceville Facility

McCain Foods Canada, a division of McCain Foods Limited, plans to further invest $12 million in its potato processing facility in the French fry capital of the world, Florenceville, N.B. This investment will add capacity to the existing line that produces French fries for the company’s food service and retail business and will be completed in two phases: one starting in August and the second phase completing in early 2020.

This capacity build will require an additional 400 hectares (1000 acres) of potatoes from local growers in the community. It follows a recent $65-million investment adding a new potato specialty line to the same production facility in 2017. 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Potato Genome Further Unveiled

Scientists from Solynta and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have published the most complete genome sequence for potatoes to date. A unique aspect is both sequence and plant material are made available for research (under specific conditions). This may, in the future, result in a potato that is more resistant to heat or drought or has a greater resistance to diseases.

The recent research applied a diploid real potato plant with only one genome, a so-called homozygote, which makes it easier to read and compare the DNA base sequence. This plant, Solyntus, was produced as part of Solynta’s hybrid potato breeding program. The genome sequence is available via https://www.plantbreeding.wur.nl/Solyntus. 

Lethbridge College, Potato Growers Partner on Irrigation Study

A new study will dig deep into the soil to determine how watering and irrigation methods affect southern Alberta’s potato crops. The four-year research project is a partnership between Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Potato Growers of Alberta. It is made possible through a grant from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The $397,595 grant allows for the study of five different potato fields throughout southern Alberta. The watering practices of two producers near Vauxhall, as well as farms near Bow Island, Chin and Taber, are being monitored. The diversity of fields allows researchers to study a variety of different soil types and topographies, which will give a holistic look at how moisture reacts with and affects potato crops. The research team will record how producers use their existing irrigation and available water sources and the outcome it has on crops in different parts of their fields. 

Scientists Discover Wild Potatoes Key for Stronger Spuds

Potatoes have been a staple of Britain’s diet for half a millennium, but new research suggests that limited genetic differences in potato lineages has left British and American spuds vulnerable to the disease that caused the Irish potato famine.

Plant scientists at the University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute have revealed commercial potato crops are under constant threat of late blight, the pathogen behind one of Europe’s most devastating famines, but wild potato genes might be the cure. Ingo Hein, principal investigator in plant pathogen co-evolution, says by using tools his team has developed, they could put potato breeders at ease, helping farmers produce fit fritters instead of the frail.

“By using diagnostic resistance gene enrichment sequencing (dRenSeq) and PenSeq tools that we have developed here in Scotland in collaboration with peers at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, we are able for the first time ever to track the historical and geographical patterns of resilient genes in American and British potatoes,” said Hein. 

PRODUCT NEWS

Yields More Than Doubled During Four-Year Project

Bayer presented challenges and best practice experiences with the implementation of its Root2Successs concept on the Continent during the African Potato Association congress in Kigali, Rwanda. This holistic concept supports sustainable production systems covering crop rotation, soil preparation, catch and cover crops, and the use of the innovative crop protection products Emesto, Velum and Serenade.

The four-year experience with Bayer’s smallholder project in Kenya underpinned the success of the Root2Success concept: farmer yields were increased by a factor of two to four. Farmer income increased by factors ranging from three to 10. Diana Gitonga, manager smallholder farming Bayer East Africa is excited about smallholder farmers’ and governmental organizations’ strong support: “It is extremely rewarding to receive so many positive responses from farmers. Farmers are happy and thankful for Bayer’s outreach, knowledge transfer and potato training to improve their incomes.” 

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