Nuffield Scholar

Greg Donald
2015

Kensington, PEI

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@1spudman

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Greg is the General Manager of the PEI Potato Board. With a BSc. degree in Agriculture and an MBA, Greg has over twenty years of experience in the potato industry, including five years with McCain Foods and 14+ years in the agricultural crop input business in Atlantic Canada and Maine with the Cavendish group.

Greg, his wife Becky along with their daughter Abby and son Jack live in Margate, PEI. Greg enjoys family activities, boating, outdoor activities and travelling.

Greg’s Nuffield project will investigate strategic plans implemented by potato industries in other countries in order to gain a greater knowledge of their long term critical success factors. He also plans to investigate other (non-potato) agricultural industry associations to gain knowledge and insight that could have application and benefit to the PEI and Canadian potato industry.

Scholar Report


Identification of Key Success Factors from World Leaders in Processing, Seed and Fresh Potatoes to Assist with Long Term Planning of Prince Edward Island’s Potato Industry

This project enabled me to learn about some of the key success factors for the processing, seed and fresh potato sectors from the world’s leading countries to assist with long term planning by the Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato industry.

Belgium is the land of the fries. An appropriate reference because it is the world’s leader in processing potatoes. Belgium has achieved this title because of its strategic location, high yields, competitiveness (low cost of production), and the industry’s expertise. Belgium’s future success factors will include a continued focus on sustainability, research and innovation, collaborations within the sector, increasing promotion, and capitalizing on growing export markets. I believe that Belgium’s most significant success factor is its strong competitiveness in the potato processing sector attributable to its high yields and low production costs.

Netherlands has become the world’s leader in seed potatoes by getting better, not bigger. Generally speaking, I believe this has been the country’s key success factor. More specifically, Netherlands success is the result of its strategic location, favourable soil and climate, expertise, innovation, and infrastructure. Netherlands’ future success factors will include a continued focus on new market-oriented variety development, research and innovation, and pest management. It was apparent production costs are very high (in particular land costs) and the prevalence of the latest in technology. These two factors are among the reasons why it is believed the Netherlands has become, and will continue to be, the world leader in the seed sector because of the need to focus on continuous improvement.

The study tour in Great Britain provided a “fresh” perspective for this project. The key success factors that have made Great Britain a world leader in the fresh potato sector include a huge local market, a focus on new exclusive varieties, branding, promotion of healthy attributes, economies of scale, and value added products. Great Britain’s future success factors will include managing supply, promoting the health benefits of potatoes, improving convenience, and increasing environmental stewardship. It was most apparent that addressing the decline in fresh consumption will be the single most important future success factor for Great Britain.

To meet the world’s increasing food needs, the potato will play a critical role– in large part because of its ability to produce a great deal of food per unit of area with less water per unit of production versus the world’s other major crops. Growth in both potato consumption and production area will occur in the developing countries, whereas consumption will be static or
declining in developed countries. Production area will also decline in developed countries due to increasing yield trends.
Trade of frozen processed products will follow a similar trend as fresh potatoes, however it is believed that production of processing potatoes and processed products will be provided by the most competitive suppliers. The big question globally will be whether local processing sectors in developing countries will be able to compete with the quality and price of world leaders like Washington and Belgium.

The key implications from this study for PEI’s potato industry include an ever increasing need for research and extension efforts to improve marketable yields, the use of exclusive market oriented varieties, effective disease management, and environmental sustainability. Also important will be efforts to strengthen PEI’s brand and the development of new products that offer greater consumer convenience. There are endless opportunities to ensure long term success by collaborating with stakeholders on PEI, across Canada, and around the world.

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