Unusual seasonal conditions over the past six months, exacerbated by the extreme heat experienced earlier this month are causing major disruptions in the national supply of our favourite vegetable. Lower yields across all of the South Australian growing regions, particularly in the Riverland and Mallee districts, are being experienced.

South Australia is the nation’s largest potato producer (380,000 tonnes annually) and produces 80% of Australia’s fresh washed potatoes. Supply is all year round.

Read the full press release here.

Australian primary producers, including those in the potato industry, will benefit under the Korea-Australia free-trade agreement (KAFTA) which was publically released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) today.

Korea is already Australia’s fifth largest export market for agricultural, fisheries, forestry and food products valued at $2.27 billion in 2012-13.Agricultural exports alone are expected to be 73 per cent higher by 2030 under this FTA.

Read the full press release here.

New on-the-ground projects will give farmers in Barker more tools and research to help them reduce farm costs, increase productivity and achieve greater returns at the farmgate.

Member for Barker, Tony Pasin MP said Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce had this week announced funding for 31 new projects across Australia as part of the Australian Government’s $21.2 million Landcare Innovation Grants.

Click here to read The Minister's full media release.

Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, the peak industry body for the potato industry value chain, has been awarded funding of $409,800 (excl GST) through the Federal Department of Agriculture’s National Landcare Innovation Grants for a two year project which will help develop a more reliable soil Phosphorus test.

“Commercial potato growing requires the application of high levels of Phosphorus fertiliser” explained Robbie Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Potatoes South Australia. “The correct application rates are critical for the financial and environmental sustainability of the industry, however there are scientifically documented challenges for the established soil testing methods to reliably predict Phosphorous requirements for the potato over a range of soil types. This can result in over application and wastage of nutrients.”

Read the full media release here.

POTATO KING: Crowning Thomas Farm Fresh General Manager Jamie Roberts 'potato king' after he successfully bid $8500 for a box of new season potatoes were Senator Sean Edwards and Little Heroes Foundation's Chair Chris McDermott.[/caption]

At an Industry Dinner on Friday night, an auction of new season baby potatoes resulted in a final bid of a very impressive $8,500. This was for 15kgs so that means these very special potatoes actually sold for $567,000 per tonne! This surpassed last year’s inaugural bid of $3,000 ($200,000/tonne) by Adelaide Produce Market’s CEO, Angelo Demasi.
Mr Tony Wetherall, Stud Stock Manager, Elders Rural Services, a corporate sponsor, transferred his highly regarded auctioneering skills from the livestock saleyards to the horticultural arena, working a room of more than 100 key industry stakeholders to produce this outstanding result. Tony is well remembered as the auctioneer responsible for the world-breaking record of $450,000 for the sale of a Merino ram at the Adelaide Ram Sales in 1990.

Read the full Media Release here.

The South Australian New Season Baby Potatoes Auction will be held at an Industry Dinner on Friday 1 November 2013.  This annual auction is organised by Potatoes South Australia Inc, the peak representative body for the potato industry value chain, and there will be a competitive bid for a box of premium baby potatoes; the first for the season.

The first auction was held last year, and $3,000 was raised for the Little Heroes Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting children living with cancer and serious illness, and their families. Again, all proceeds from this year’s auction will support the Foundation.

Robbie Davis, CEO of Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, said “South Australia is the nation’s largest potato producer with farm gate production worth $206 million and it is only fitting that we celebrate Spring’s potato harvest. Potatoes also represent the largest horticulture contribution to the state’s gross food revenue (>$440 million)”.

Click here to read the full media release

The South Australian potato industry is facing yet another hurdle in what is already a highly competitive market.

Yesterday, McCain Foods announced that it will close its potato processing plant in Penola, South Australia by December 20, 2013. The processing sector in the Limestone Coast alone is worth approximately $35 million at farm gate. Australia-wide, the processing sector is worth $150 million at farm gate.

Australia has one of the highest raw material costs in the world, which is unsustainable in the long term and continuously rising input costs, such as labour and electricity, coupled with a surplus capacity, contributed to the closure decision.

Imports of cheaper processed potatoes have risen from 10,000 tonnes in 2002 to a decade-high of 130,000 tonnes at the end of 2012.

Click here to read the full press release.

As reported in PotatoPro, August 2013

Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has released "Woolworths Trolley Trends", a report focused on the changes in the spending pattern of their Australian Shoppers over the past 25 years. The report also highlights the dramatic change in the position of the potato in that shopping cart over this period.

Over the 25 years reviewed, Australia has become a cosmopolitan community and our tastebuds have embraced global flavours. The way we eat and how we spend our money on food and other costs of living tell a unique story about how our country has changed.

Woolworths commissioned the research into Australia’s shopping habits with context provided by analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Household Expenditure Surveys, Census and Reserve Bank of Australia by leading social researcher, KPMG’s Bernard Salt.

The Woolworths Trolley Trends report has revealed a vastly different Australia to the one that existed 25 years ago. The modern Australian household is less likely to have exclusive Anglo-Australian heritage, less likely to identify with religion, more likely to be highly educated and more likely to have both partners working. Today’s family might be a single, a couple or have adult kids living at home well into in their twenties and still relying on mum and dad for support. These changes are reflected in their shopping trolleys.

The trolley transformation:

The potato was Australia’s side dish of choice in 1984 accounting for 72% of our side dish purchases. This has dropped to 39%, with the popularity of pasta, noodles and rice increasing to now make up 61% of side dish purchases.

Read the report "Woolworths Trolley Trends"


The South Australian State Government has awarded more than $50,000 to the potato and wine industries for initiatives to make sure workers have skills to meet increasing production demands.

Potatoes SA has been awarded $43,500 to plan for the future needs across the five key potato
growing regions – Kangaroo Island, the Mallee, the Riverland/Murraylands, the Northern
Adelaide Plains and the South East.

South Australia currently produces 80 per cent of the nation’s fresh washed potatoes.

Click here to download the full media release.

Marc Soccio, Senior Analyst Wine, Horticulture and Rural Economics, Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory at Rabobank provided two regional presentations to the potato industry recently; in Virginia and Mt Gambier. Marc, accompanied by Frank Young, Branch Manager, Adelaide office and Alison Tierney, Marketing Manager SA, also spoke to the Potatoes South Australia Board and key stakeholders.

The topic was 'Who are you selling to? Keeping tabs on the eating and shopping habits of a changing Australian society'.

It examined consumer demand away from staples, including the potato, and the consumption of substitutes including other carbohydrates and vegetables. This is a trend also seen in the USA, UK and NZ.

The presentation dovetailed with our current research project concerning the success of generic marketing in the food sector.

Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) team is charged with analysing developments in food and agricultural markets and industries, and advising the bank and its clients on strategic implications for their businesses.

Click here to download the presentation Rabobank_SA Horticulture Presentation_July-2013

Click here to download the bio of Marc Soccio, Rabobank