Earlier this month, 13 years after it was initially submitted for approval, BASF’s Amflora potato was approved for cultivation by the European Commission. In a press release from the company, Stefan Marcinowski, a member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE stated, “We hope that this decision is a milestone for further innovative products that will promote a competitive and sustainable agriculture in Europe.”
The variety, which was developed for the production of amylopectin starch in industrial uses and animal feed, is the first biotech crop approved for production in the EU in more than a decade. The approval is an encouraging step for agriculture in the EU and for countries who export products to the EU; some might even go so far as to call the approval a game changer.
Definition of a game changer: “A game changer defines or re-defines the sector where it competes. A game changer sets the pricing and margin model in its sector. A game changer explores new geographies for its products, and in many cases betters mankind.”
There is no doubt there will still be controversy around this introduction. Also, much work will need to be done to ensure the market is prepared both from a communications and logistics stand point to have a successful product launch.
Another game changer facing the Canadian industry is the recent announcement that some processors will be cutting back required acres this spring, thereby eliminating contracts for some growers. There has already been much talk in the industry concerning potato stocks in North America and the fact that despite holding the line on planted acres last year we still saw an increase in production. Combine this with declining potato consumption and, unfortunately, this has really hit home when it comes to market prices; a fact that has not been overlooked by processors or producers.
Whatever the game changer may be, it further emphasizes the need for increased industry communication, broader cooperation at all levels of industry, and exploration of new marketing opportunities. As the definition states, game changers offer a chance to re-define the rules, which could see significant benefits for the industry.