Potato Review

10 POTATO REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2020 SUSTAINABILITY FOCUS and optimize yields as much as possible. Dynamic technology-based solutions must be implemented to ensure any harvest is grown as sustainably as possible to meet both the growing demand for potatoes from an ever- increasing population. Meeting the customer requirements Consumers are the biggest drivers of change within all sectors and industries – and the potato industry is no exception. ere will always be a want for high quality produce, but a change in consumer trends, behaviour and preferences is helping the industry’s supply chain to re-evaluate its production process. It must become more exible and agile to meet the characteristics desired by the customer. Take the potato chip as an example. Brands have stringent requirements on the potatoes they will use, based on knowing what the customer wants. For potato chips, they must be round or oval, be no more than 75mm in length, and have less than a quarter dry matter to make the potato chip look more appealing to the customer. French fry brands have requirements too. To ensure there is no darkened end once fried, which can be undesirable to the consumer, there must be a reduced sugar content of 0.25%. e answer to meeting these requirements is through technology. By adopting innovative potato sorting machines utilizing optical technology, areas such as toxins, defects and the overall size of the produce can be detected early in the supply chain and allow the customer to get the type of potato desired. is, in turn, helps reduce the pressure on producers, as they can both optimise yields and deliver high quality through harnessing the power of sorting systems. Combating waste through ecient grading and repurposing Within potato production, sustainability is key. To protect resources, we must ensure that yields are optimised and waste is reduced as much as possible. Customer demands, expectations and requirements mean potato sorting and grading machines become an integral part of the supply chain and help allow for any potential defected produce to be repurposed. Especially with processed potato goods, where the market is seeing new products being released, nding alternative uses for a potato which doesn’t make the grade for one use can be done e ciently. Grading technologies such as Near Infrared (NIR) can help supply chain select speci c potatoes for certain uses at any stage based on the suitability. In a working example, a potato may be graded by the sorting machine and be deemed unsuitable for using as a French fry owing to a defect. is doesn’t mean it has to be totally removed from the supply chain, but an alternative purpose can be found. Once the defect has been removed, the potato can be ‘scaled down’ from its use as a French fry to, if quality allows, a hash brown or novelty children’s potato product. Any potatoes which were once graded as waste can now be used to support a producer’s ‘bottom line’, which not only cuts back on food loss, but also improves sustainability of the supply chain. A new era in sustainable potato production e planet is facing challenges. e ever- growing population and climate change will pose questions on how we grow, produce and process resources – and the potato industry is no exception to this. With a global increase in demand, potato productionmust adapt tomaximise its value, optimise yields and increase the quality of produce through the use of technology solutions. “To protect resources, we must ensure yields are optimised and waste is reduced as much as possible.” The range of uses for potatoes has also instigated its rise in popularity, especially processed potato products. Image by Angelo Rosa

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