[ASC-media] Speaker highlights from the Potato Industry Conference
2005 - For immediate release
Diana Wolfe (03) 9372 5305
diana at wolfewords.com
Mon Sep 19 07:28:24 EST 2005
MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2005
Potato Industry Conference speaker highlights - for immediate release
Why consumers are confused about spuds!
- Research findings launched at Potato 2005
Coloured vegetables, especially green vegetables
are perceived as having more nutritional value
than white vegetables such as potatoes, according
to Dean Harris of Market Equity Pty Ltd.
"The awareness of the nutritional value of
potatoes is low, and if consumers were educated
on nutritional value, use may increase," he said.
Market Equity recently completed a study on
behalf of Horticulture Australia aimed at
understanding consumer needs and perceptions with
regard to potatoes.
The study shows that consumers have been
receiving confusing and conflicting messages
about the nutritional benefits of foods,
especially potatoes. Dean believes the potato
industry can capitalise on the survey's findings
and influence consumer buying patterns, in part
by producing clear nutritional information for
Dean will outline other possible industry
initiatives out of the survey at the launch of
the study at Potato 2005, the Australian National
Potato industry trends in the UK
- Lessons from one of UK's top three producers
Growers wanting to take control of their
businesses to increase margins and reduce risk,
need to be prepared to embrace innovation and
change and question every cost in the entire
This is the experience of the Higgins Group, a
top-three potato business in the UK, marketing
more than 300,000 tonnes a year to turn over
about $A100 million.
David Higgins will outline his family company's
business direction and experience at Potato 2005.
According to David, the Higgins group has driven
change in their business during the recent era of
industry restructure in the UK which has seen 42%
of growers leave the industry in the past five
years as the result of increased competition from
EU imports and relentless downward price pressure.
Drivers for Potatoes and what the industry can do about them
The Australian Government's 'treasury line' on
import controls has already hurt the clothing,
shoes, car and steel sectors in Australia. The
potato industry is also unlikely to be able to
look to government policy for relief from an
increasing onslaught of imports, according to
Neville Norman, Economics Professor at the
University of Melbourne, speaking at Potato 2005.
His view is the industry needs to take corrective
action to stop local share losing out over
imports. This may mean revisiting the four Ps of
o Product - quality and image
o Price - what it would be if proper profit
percents were put on efficient unit costs
o Promotion of products to relevant buyers
o Partnerships to improve buying economies,
harvesting and distribution network.
Neville also argues that growers coming together
to strategically plan an approach to government
on labelling home-grown produce and imports is
likely to receive a sympathetic ear from policy
He will speak about the industry paying
particular attention to the economic and other
drivers they can influence on the road to
improving market position.
National push to use recycled waste water in Horticulture
Using recycled waste water (treated sewage
effluent) to irrigate parklands and golf courses
is a little known but by no means new practice.
It has happened for decades. However, using this
water to grow fresh food crops is a relatively
new concept for Australians.
Since 2003, Daryl Stevens and Jim Kelly, as
national coordinators for recycled water
development in horticulture, have had the job of
helping growers understand how to use this water
to grow vegetables and other crops.
About 70% of Australia's drinking water is
currently used for agriculture and other
industries rather than for drinking, so it is
critical that we replace this good drinking water
with an alternative safe water supply.
Daryl and Jim's brief involves presenting the
facts about reclaimed water and dispelling the
hype or misinformation about its safety. Uptake
of the new technology has been steady, Daryl said.
"This year, two new major schemes have been
established in Victoria; the Eastern Irrigation
Scheme and Werribee Irrigation District," he
"The Queensland Department of Sustainability and
Development has also commissioned a business case
to support supply of recycled water to growers of
the Lockyer, Bremmer and Warrill Valleys. The
Lockyer Valley Water Users Forum has signed a
memorandum of understanding, for five years with
Brisbane Water and Ipswich Council, for supply of
25 GL per annum of reclaimed water.
"Clearly, industry recognises the value of a
permanent supply of water of a guaranteed
quality, to continue or develop their businesses.
This has been shown through the increased demand
for high quality recycled waste water since
development of the Virginia Pipeline Scheme in
South Australia in 1998."
Progress with new-look R&D
A new $14 million processing potato R&D program
is the most strategic and ambitious the
Australian processing potato industry has ever
embarked on, according to Processing Potatoes
Association of Australia President Paul Frost.
The research, which takes a different team
approach and focuses tightly on specific issues,
will have a higher probability of producing
controls for long-standing diseases such as
common scab, powdery scab, rhizoctonia and tomato
spotted wilt virus.
These diseases represent the most significant
production challenge to the industry in terms of
damage and losses. Better management of diseases
will lift processing yields and reduce costly
wastage to improve industry competitiveness in
the global market.
Paul will outline the program's unique structure
and progress so far in his talk on the third day
of Potato 2005, being held at Phillip Island.
Getting a fair go - progress towards a Horticulture Code of conduct
The draft mandatory Horticulture Code of Conduct
released in July by the Australian government
faces opposition from wholesalers and doesn't
meet the needs of either growers or wholesalers,
according to speaker and CEO of AUSVEG, Euan
"My view is it tries to be all things to all
people and fails to address key concerns of the
grower sector," Euan said.
In his talk, Euan outlines the background to the
Australian government commitment to a mandatory
code and work towards its implementation.
He details what growers want from the code,
likely costs of implementation and puts a 'where
to from here' scenario.
The future of our French Fries
The challenge for processing companies in
Australia is to continue to increase their
innovation in product development, especially in
the area of 'healthier products', while being
competitive on price in an increasingly
globalised market place.
This is the view of David Antrobus, Field Manager
McCain Foods, who is addressing growers at Potato
2005 this week.
David said recent years have seen good volume
growth for the French Fry industry in Australia.
However, recent trends show a significant
increase in imported fries entering the
Australian market, which has eroded our
Australian volume being processed.
"Recent emphasis on encouraging healthier eating
habits has focused the processing industry on
producing a healthier product. For example, low
cholesterol fries cooked in canola oil are
gaining market share.
"The key challenges for the coming months/years
here in Australia are for the potato processing
companies to be innovative in product development
while striving to be competitive in the face of
increasing pressure from the globilisation of our
David maintains this cannot be a long-term goal
and that change has to happen quickly. His
address looks at strategies to improve the future
of the local industry.
Potato 2005 will be held at the Continental,
Phillip Island, VIC, from Monday 19 September to
Wednesday 21 September. Media are welcome to
attend. Speakers are available for interview. For
further information on media aspects or to
arrange interviews, please contact:
Cathy Sage Ph: 0400 714 603; email: cathy at sagewords.com.au
To access all media releases, hi-res and lo-res
photos, go to: http://www.arris.com.au/~potato2005
For conference information, see website: http://www.spv.org.au
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