Vol.2 ISSUE 2 Spring 2010
BREEDING PROGRAMS MEET TO STREAMLINE VARIETAL DEVELOPMENT
During the fall of 2009, leaders and representatives from major University and USDA-ARS breeding programs, along with a Canadian representative, met in Chicago to discuss the possibility for creating a national effort to develop enhanced raw materials for the chip industry. Dr. David S. Douches, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences Professor at Michigan State University, and Dr. Charlie Higgins, Heartland Farms, Inc., and Walther Farms Director of Research and Development were instrumental in organizing this meeting.
The meeting addressed the challenges facing the public breeding programs. Although each program holds great assets in the production of up and coming varieties, they have not been very capable in delivering all of these resources to the industry.
“We proposed that we come up with a more streamlined variety development process, and asked if the participants in the room would be willing to participate,” explained David Parish, President at AIS Consulting, LLC, who manages the United States Potato Board’s (USPB) chip program. “Although there are many details to work out, we confirmed this to be the process needed to improve the future of varietal development.
“We can all agree this is the right thing to do for the industry, and each breeding program is committed to considering ways they can contribute to this kind of system. We’re also working on a draft proposal for how the processes will function within the system, and a draft for funding this kind of system.”
CHIP SECTOR WEIGHS FUNDING EXPANSION
During Late January, the USPB Chip Committee held a conference call with chip processors to gauge their interest in funding an expansion of the material development program to fast track the breeding of new chip-stock potato varieties. On the call were several of the larger regional processors, Utz, Herrs, Shearers, Kettle, Lance, Inventure Group and Better Made. Others were invited but were unable to attend.
“The feedback from this call is that the processors are fairly unanimous in wanting to provide additional funding to expand our current material development program,” said David Parish, President of AIS Consulting, LLC. “An information deck on the program will be necessary before a formal commitment will be made.
“There are many details to be worked out but it looks like we are getting a united message from the industry that we are going to have the first fully collaborative effort where we have the industry, processor and suppliers all working together and funding a program that will truly make the chip industry unique.”
Parish has already worked with all of the USPB Chip Committee cooperators in putting together a deck defining the new program, funding requirements, and desired outcomes. This will be available for the Committee and the processors.
BUILDING CHIP-STOCK DEMAND IN CENTRAL AMERICA
US growers visited Central America, November 30 – December 5, 2009, as part of a USPB-organized Chip-Stock Trade Mission.
During the trip, the US delegation, comprised of Sarah Mahler, USPB International Marketing Manager; Eric Halverson, USPB International Marketing and Administrative Committee Member and Black Gold Farms; Weston Walker and Juan De Vincenti, Gold Dust, Inc.; and Dr. Joe Sowokinos, University of Minnesota, visited Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. The delegation met with major snack manufacturers and importers and distributors in each country, during which the group learned more about the Central American snack market and each of the company’s specific supply needs. Presentations were given on the USPB, the US potato industry and major US chipping potato varieties. Dr. Joe Sowokinos also led a discussion on maintaining US potato quality in the field, in storage and after arrival at the final destination.
During the trip, US growers were able to meet with manufacturers and importers interested in importing US potatoes. As is the purpose of all USPB-sponsored trade missions, this trip helped build relationships between buyers and sellers and increase the understanding of US chipping potatoes and their technical requirements among snack manufacturers. The short transit times from the US to Central America, the need for a consistent supply of chipping potatoes, as well as interest from these international companies, gives US chip-stock exporters a viable opportunity to increase international sales.
©2010 United States Potato Board