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Steering Group Created to Develop Seed Potato Action Plan

04 June 2021

A Steering Group, led by SAOS, AHDB and NFUS, is to
co-ordinate the development of a new Seed Potato Strategic Action Plan. The work will be carried out as part of the Recovery Plan, on behalf of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, and supported by Scottish Government.

The seed potato sector is facing significant challenges. The pandemic changed everything for the foodservice and prepared meals markets, impacting negatively on the demand for ware potatoes. The fall-out from Brexit continues to disrupt the industry with the absence of 'third country equivalence' halting all exports to Europe and many new trade agreements yet to be secured. Adding in the general decline in potato consumption, long-term land contamination from Potato Cyst Nematode, and the reduction in the availability of pest control treatments, mean that the imperative to work together across the sector has never been more important.

In 2018, in response to Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s Ambition 2030, a Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Growth Strategy was launched. This work is now to be reviewed, and a plan developed to address the distinct challenges and opportunities facing the seed potato sector. Alan Stevenson, SAOS's Supply Chain Development Director, explains: “There is no doubt that these are turbulent times for the seed potato sector in particular. The imperative is for the industry to come together, with a focus on action that will secure and support a vibrant, resilient and sustainably profitable future for the sector."

The work will see the creation of three Working Groups, each led by a member of the Steering Group. These groups will consult across the sector to identify key market and commercial, policy and farming, and science and technology insights across the whole seed potato supply chain. This work will then be shared with a Consultation Board, made up of key industry representatives who will sense check findings and capture additional insight prior to the publication of the final agreed Action Plan.

The work will be undertaken over the next 6-8 months and the team is eager to get started. There is an opportunity to get involved, either through inclusion in one of the working groups, or through participation in a detailed survey later in the process. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch with the relevant working group leader:

Markets and Commercial - Patrick Hughes, AHDB: Patrick.hughes@ahdb.org.uk

Science and Technical - Helen Glass, SAOS: Helen.glass@saos.coop

Farming and Policy - Jim Booth, SAOS: Jim.booth@saos.coop

                 

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