News

28/08/2018

World Potato Congress gives farmers in the Andes an extra boost via Trias project

This spring, Trias was one of the highlights at the World Potato Congress in Peru. The contacts made during this event with various partners have been fruitful.

Every three years, the World Potato Congress brings together thousands of researchers and professionals from the global potato sector. For this spring's edition, Congress President Romain Cools booked in a presentation of the projects Trias has carried out together with a number of local farmers' organisations in the Andes, the birthplace of the potato.

Generator for freezer room

'During the event, we met some interesting people', explains Lieve Van Elsen, regional director of Trias Andes. 'Take for example seed and fertilizer sellers. In the past, these companies were not int

erested in small farmers from Conpapa or Coopagros. But during the World Potato Congress, they discovered the potential of these farmers' organisations and their members. That is interesting for the farmers as the companies also offer technical assistance.'

Significantly, the national governments in the Andes countries have been enthused. In Peru, the government was so impressed by the new freezer

room of Coopagros' potato growers that they immediately made a generator available to provide the installation with electricity, making the freezer room operational. However, the quality of the freeze-dried potatoes still needs to be optimized, which is why Trias has started a partnership with the ILVO, Unversity College Ghent, the University of Andahuaylas and the International Potato Center in Peru.

500,000 dollars

In Ecuador, agriculture minister Rúben Flores unveiled ambitious plans after the World Potato Congress. 'We got the chance to speak to the minister', says Van Elsen, who is excited about the 500,000 dollars that Flores has just freed up for the country's potato sector.

'The potato sector in Ecuador will get an extra impulse with investments in informing companies, monitoring the quality of seeds and building new storage warehouses. The model for this is Conpapa's warehouse, which was built several years ago with the support of Trias Andes and our Flemish partners. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian government will subsidise a crisp factory run by Agropapa, another farmers' organisation which Trias works with', explains the regional director.

Flemish coalition

Trias Andes' Flemish partners are also keen to keep up the good work. Siebe Moeyaert is currently in Ecuador, designing a weighing and packing add-on for Conpapa's potato growers as part of his master's in electromechanics. The add-on will be coupled to the washing and sorting machine that was constructed two years ago with the support of Boerenbond, Belgapom and VTI in Torhout.

This new add-on will serve as the basis for detailed designs that students at the VTI will do this autumn as part of their final year.

In the last decade, Trias has built on the Flemish coalition supporting potatoes in the Andes. In 2008, Belgapom was brought on board as part of the International Year of the Potato. Since then, partnerships have been forged at different points in time with Rotary, the VTI, the VLTI, the ILVO and the Province of West Flanders.

Although Peru and Ecuador are currently middle-income countries, it is still difficult for the millions of farming families in the Andes to enjoy a standard of living that we consider 'normal'. Most of their villages are isolated, and a long way from high-quality, basic healthcare and education services. Mining is the most important sector in production value terms, but it is agriculture that provides jobs. The low incomes and limited infrastructure mean that many people leave rural areas.


28/08/2018

INTERPOM PRIMEURS 2018 already fully booked

The 19th edition of INTERPOM PRIMEURS will be held on Sunday 25 to Tuesday 27 November 2018 in Kortrijk Xpo (Belgium). INTERPOM PRIMEURS is the most sharply focused indoor trade fair in Europe for the entire potato and vegetable sector. The whole chain will be taking part, from growers to processing and marketing. Once again, the event has shown positive growth figures and with 315 exhibitors, stand space has already been fully booked, months before the opening. INTERPOM PRIMEURS is known as the largest international indoor potato trade event in the world, the leading trade platform where you can track the latest market developments, pricing trends and innovations.

The 2018 event expects to welcome some 20 000 visitors and will kick off the international ‘Can you imagine a world without potatoes?’ campaign.
All stand space fully booked The last few editions of INTERPOM PRIMEURS have shown strong growth figures and increasing internationalization. Once again, every m2 of the exhibition complex at Kortrijk Xpo has been put to use and months before the event, it is already fully booked, even though we have added an extra 500m2 this year. INTERPOM PRIMEURS will be showcasing a remarkably complete and specialised range of products, machines and services for the whole chain: growers, contractors, processors, packers, buyers and traders of fresh and processed potatoes and vegetables throughout Europe and increasingly from other continents too. The last INTERPOM PRIMEURS clocked up 19 938 visitors (+2%) from 49 different countries all over the world and achieved a positive recommendation score of a resounding 8.5/10! The organizers expect to exceed these figures and beat their own record again this year.
Innovation Square: Interactive walk-in seminars on ‘Innovation & the future of the potato’ In addition to the wide range of exhibitors and the many networking opportunities, INTERPOM PRIMEURS will be presenting an interesting ‘walk-in seminar’ programme on Innovation Square in Hall 6. Speakers from Belgium and abroad will be sharing their knowledge, experience and vision in short, 20-minute interactive sessions on a variety of themes connected with innovation in the potato chain. This Innovation Square will give you a glimpse of the future of the sector. Entrance is free for visitors at the event. The aim of all this is to provide information for players throughout the sector, to help them become more professional and work together to achieve an innovative, sustainable future. In this context, the new Potato Trade Association will be officially presented in the presence of the Flemish and Walloon ministers of agriculture Joke Schauvliege and René Collin. The full programme and details of the speakers will be announced at the end of September.
Can you imagine a world without potatoes? At INTERPOM PRIMEURS the CIP (International Potato Center) will launch the international ‘Can you imagine a world without potatoes’ campaign which aims to increase international awareness of the importance of potatoes for people everywhere. ‘Can you imagine a world without potatoes?’! This question will prompt millions of consumers all over the world to think about potatoes both as a source of nutrients and eating pleasure. They will realize the amazing biodiversity of potatoes, and the positive role they can play in tackling future challenges such as climate change, food safety and development.
Online visitor registration and ticket sales now open Like last year, visitors must register online at the event website to purchase their entrance ticket. Holders of free invitations or reduction vouchers must also register in advance, using the code on their invitation. Once visitors have registered (and paid if necessary) they will receive an e-ticket with barcode. This document with barcode is the only valid entrance ticket and will be scanned at the entrance to the event. Tickets can now be purchased online at op www.interpom-primeurs.be.
Dynamic and international meeting place for exchanging information. Kortrijk, where the event is held, is in the heart of a dynamic and expanding potato and vegetable market. Consequently, INTERPOM PRIMEURS is the ideal place to make new contacts and reinforce existing relationships with colleagues and suppliers in Belgium and abroad. A must-do event for all professionals in the sector!
INTERPOM PRIMEURS is an initiative of Belgapom, the official trade association of the Belgian potato trading and processing sector. The practical organization is in the hands of Kortrijk Xpo
Info & contact: Kortrijk Xpo – Annick Pycarelle - T. +32 (0)56 24 11 11 interpom-primeurs@kortrijkxpo.com - www.interpom-primeurs.be


07/07/2018

Marc Van Herreweghe new chairman of Belgapom

The annual general meeting of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and processing industry association, has appointed Marc Van Herreweghe as its chairman. He succeeds Marc Seru who in accordance with the articles of association was not available for re-election after two terms of 3 years.

Marc Van Herreweghe is the CEO of the family-owned potato processing company Mydibel in Mouscron.

He started his international career at British American Tobacco, one of the world’s leading multinationals with 44 factories in 42 countries. His career at BAT is impressive, working up to Group Head of Manufacturing, responsible for all of the group’s factories. He is an expert in People Leadership, Business Integration & Transformation, Operational Excellence, Industry 4.0 and Mergers & Acquisitions.

Afterwards he worked as a consultant for various international companies amongst other things as Associated Vice-President of IDC (International Data Corporation), global leader in Market Intelligence, Advisory Services and Research. In addition, he has seats on various executive boards.

Since the beginning of this year, Marc Van Herreweghe is also chairman of the executive committee for the Processing section within Belgapom.

During his word of thanks, he pointed to the necessity of the fast-growing potato sector in our country to make use of the technological means available to better coordinate the entire potato chain. This can benefit all the links in the chain according to the new chairman.

However, in addition, the potato sector must more than ever before defend its interests: our country has the ideal soil and climate for growing potatoes. Thanks to the development of the potato-processing sector into a leading industrial player in the global agro-food sector, we are faced with numerous new challenges. For example, from the consequences of climate change, the increasing pressure from disease and pests and the availability of workers via the demand for ever more sustainable production and the pressure on the use of crop protection agents to the increasing market protection that poses major challenges to global trade.

It is Belgapom’s task to handle this, together with the chain, through efficient cooperation with our national and European organisations. To this end he also pointed out the role of the inter-branche organisation to be founded in our country.

New Belgapom board.

In addition to the election of a new chairman, the board was also renewed.
The following have seats representing the Trade section: Marc Bauden, Ben Muyshondt, Bart Nemegheer, Marc Seru, Rik Tanghe and Heike Valcke.

The following have seats representing the Processing section: Jan Clarebout, Yves De Vinck, Dirk Desloovere, Wim Lannoey, Carlo Mylle and Hannelore Raes.

This board has a mandate until 2021.

FVPhouse event on remote sensing and blockchain technology

Immediately after Belgapom’s AGM, there was an event organised together with Belgapom’s partners in the FVPhouse umbrella Fresh Trade Belgium and Vegeben, in collaboration with VITO.

It placed a spotlight on the potential of remote sensing and big data – of which WatchITgrow is an example for the potato sector. Bart Deron
de of VITO illustrated that monitoring the cultivation of potatoes, fruit and vegetables via remote sensing has potential for all the links in the chain.


After that, Walter Stiers illustrated the opportunities of blockchain technology for the functioning of the value chain by means of a number of examples. Both remote sensing and blockchain can be important tools for efficient insurance.

 


16/03/2018

Record investments in the Belgian potato-processing sector are continued in 2017: production figures higher once again

The record year of 2016 for the Belgian potato-processing industry continued into 2017, according to Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and processing industry association.

During the past few years, the Belgian potato industry developed into one of the fastest growing sectors in the Belgian food industry. Partly thanks to the significant investment in capacity and quality, this trend continued in 2017. Thus last year 4.57 million tonnes of potatoes (+ 3.6 %) were processed into fries, crisps, croquettes, flakes, granules and other potato products.

What is noticeable in 2017 is the exceptional increase in products other than fries (crisps, croquettes, mash products, flakes, etc.), which evolved from 468,513 to 690,159 tonnes (+ 47.5%).

The share of frozen and fresh fries rose from 1.91 million tonnes to 1.99 million tonnes (+ 4.3 %), however the share of fresh refrigerated fries fell by 3.5 %.

For the season 2017-2018 statistics show with 5,11 million tons of potatoes an absolute record harvest for Belgium. This increase in resulting from the increase in planted area, the choices of varieties and the influence of weather conditions. The figures published by Belgapom relate to the calendar year of 2017, which spans two potato seasons (2016-2017 and 2017-2018).

But what is certainly fanning the optimism in the sector is the fact that in 2017 the record sum of over 305 million euros invested in the potato-processing sector was almost equalled (-1.3 %). Employment in the sector once gain also grew by 7.1 % (4,410 units).

According to the latest statistics, Belgium remains by far the largest exporter of frozen potatoes in the world in 2017 with 2.2 million tonnes. The share of third countries continues to increase.

Promotion …

On the eve of the national holiday in 2017, all the competent authorities recognised the ‘frietkot culture’ as national intangible cultural heritage. On that occasion, Prince Laurent of Belgium granted the mandate of “ambassador of the Belgian frietkot culture abroad” to James Bint, the famous cartoon character who analogously with his homonym ‘James Bond’ has a ‘license to fry’.

Last year, the figure of James Bint was used to start the promotion campaign for ‘Belgian fries, from the heart of Europe’ in southeast Asia. By participating in trade fairs and press events, the Belgian fry producers try to demonstrate the authenticity and quality of the Belgian fries in this fast-growing market of 557 million consumers. As of today, after all the supply of potato products in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand above all comes from North Africa.

The campaign – with the support of the European Commission – is being carried out by VLAM in cooperation with APAQ-W, FIT and AWEX and will continue in 2018 and 2019. There are events planned in the near future in Singapore, Manilla, Bangkok, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.

In the week of 9-15 May, the Central World Bangkok – one of the largest shopping centres in the world – will be dominated by “real Belgian fries”. For one week, Belgian fries will be offered for tasting and during the weekend of 11-13 May, the famous Belgian frietkot manager, Eddy Cooremans, will be present to fry and recommend Belgian fries. What is more, a real-life James Bint will provide additional entertainment with his text balloons. This event is also being linked to social media and B2B events such as the Thaifex trade fair.

… and increasing protectionism

But on the other side of the world, a threat is emerging. Belgian (and European) fries risk becoming the victim of protectionist reflexes that threaten international trade.

After unjustified antidumping measures by the Brazilian government (the legal complaint against this by the European companies is still pending), a decision by the Colombian government is soon also expected about a similar case. The dossier resembles a Swiss cheese with just as many holes (which was also confirmed by the European Commission), but a negative decision here can still lead to unjustified import levies. Unfortunately, these dossiers have also got other South American countries thinking about making use of this procedure, even if there is no reason to do so at all.

Belgapom and the European federation EUPPA have urged the European Commission to increase the pressure to end such practices, where apparently there is no hesitation in falsifying a dossier even during the process.

Sustainable growth

Not only has the Belgian sector chosen to press ahead to guarantee the sustainability of its national potato production by setting up further forms of cooperation via the Potato Branch Organisation, which is to be baptised during Interpom Primeurs (25-27 November 2018). But Belgapom also supports international cooperation projects within the potato sector in developing countries. For example the project Coalición Chuño by TRIAS in collaboration with a number of other partners such as ILVO, VTI, VLTI and Rotary Torhout, which supports the construction of the first artisanal chuño factory in the world in Peru (a century-old technology for freeze-drying potatoes). This project will be presented to the whole world as an example of development aid through potatoes during the World Potato Congress in Cuzco (27-31 May 2018).


14/03/2017

WatchITgrow : a revolutionary jump forward for the Belgian potato chain!

WatchITgrow is a new geo-information platform developped for the potato sector with the purpose to better estimate and increase the potato yield in a sustainable way. With this webtool the belgian potato growers and the potato traders and processors can quickly and in a user friendly way access data and information on the growth of different potato varieties.

WatchITgrow is the result of 3 years scientific research under the project name iPot. The iPot project started in 2014 under the auspices of the STEREO-III research programm of the Federal Public Planning Service Science Policy (BELSPO).   WatchITgrow now makes the results of this scientific research available for the entire Belgian potato sector.

The power of Remote Sensing for the agricultural sector

WatchITgrow is the first platform to combine several types of data. Through the combination of satellite and drone images, weather and soil data and yield prediction models, the potato sector can consult, via watchITgrow, in a quick and efficient way the correct information on one of multiple potato fields. With these additional insights one can:

* Access more and more accurate information on the state of the crop;
* Beter monitor the potato crop in function of growth, health status and development;
* Map spacial variability within the field;
* Guarantee and increase the yield;
* Estimate the harvest date and yields during the season;
* Reduce production and quality losses.

Not only external data but also data from the potato industry (such as results from yield and quality determination) can be centralised in this geo-information platform. This allows the users to check in an easy way for example which part of the production area gives the best yields or where a certain potato variety performs better or worse and what the possible causes may be.

WatchITgrow, the potato sector and research world, side by side

After 3 years of scientific research by scientists from Flanders and Wallonia (VITO, CRA-W and ULG) together with the potato traders and processors (Belgapom), the online geo-information platform watchITgrow is born. The platform is developped for the potato sector with intensive input from the sector.

The data and knowledge of the potato sector enabled the researchers to finetine and gradually improve the monitorsystem. Thanks to the additional field data the application will keep improving and become more accurate season after season.

This innovative instrument can form the basis of futher applications within the field of precision agriculture, f.i. sickness prevention and fertilising, but also the possibility to link the field registration system of Vegaplan.

Crucial is the fact that the potato grower – potentially in agreement with his customers – remains himself the owner of his data.

More info on www.watchitgrow.be