Sustainability, Research and Innovation

The potato sector is continuously investing in research and innovation along the complete chain. The sector is always exploring ways to produce crops efficiently and economically, driven by customer needs and innovation with the aim of meeting consumer requirements for affordable and convenient potatoes, and exploiting export markets with a range of potato varieties and improvements.


Tackling Food Waste in the potato sector

Food waste should be reduced as much as possible, a message that the potato sector also fully endorses. In this sense, Europatat can confirm that the potato sector is taking responsibility for waste reduction, as it is shown by initiatives such as “Every Crumb Counts”, a Joint Declaration signed by Europatat and other co-signatories from the food supply chain already in 2013; or a position paper released in 2016 compiling best practices and recommendations to tackle food waste at various levels of potato supply chain. In addition, Europatat is an active member of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, and more concretely, of its sub-group on food waste measurement.


EU action against single-use plastics

With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world’s oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. To address the problem, the European Commission adopted in January 2018 its first Plastics Strategy. A few months later, in June 2018, the Commission also published a Proposal for a Directive on the reduction of the impact of single-use plastic products on the environment. Given the current high social demand to reduce plastic packaging, Europatat monitors the political discussions and informs its members to ensure the most positive involvement of the potato trade on this topic.


Research programmes

Over the last years, the European Commission has spent increasingly more attention to Research and Innovation, via its flagship initiative ‘Horizon 2020’, running from 2014 to 2020. The programme foresees €80 billion for funding of Research and Innovation projects, with some projects focussing on research excellence, and others on innovation with special emphasis on the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Europatat is currently involved in two research projects under Horizon 2020, which are directly related to problems affecting the sector: the tolerance to water stress in potato and the pursuit of sustainable alternatives to pesticides.


New plant breeding techniques (NPBTs): uncertain future

Potatoes are the most important vegetable crop and the fourth most important food crop in the world. The potato is an important food for the fresh market and it is also the raw material for many processing industries. New varieties are central to the health and growth of the European potato industry and for feeding the world’s growing population. Research on the genetic improvement of this crop is therefore important. Breeding techniques are used by the sector to address market and production limiting traits. Indeed, potato breeders aim to produce new cultivars better adapted than existing ones to conditions in which they are going to be grown and stored, and the ways in which they are going to be used.

In the European Union there is an ongoing debate on whether the resulting plants and the products of new plant breeding techniques fall within the definition of GMO in scientific and legal terms. Europatat position is for the protection of a high-performing, innovative and diversified European plant breeding industry and supports a reasonable approach towards new breeding techniques in line with the recommendations of Member States’ Experts and the vast majority of scientists.


Read more about our main actions on these topics in our 2019-2019 Activity Report.

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