Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, European potato traders have been working around the clock not only to keep the potato supply chain running but also to help combat Covid-19. In this article you can take a look at those Europatat’s members actions  that have been carried out all around Europe in the past weeks. We would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to all of you. You are our #foodheroes!

Belgapom & Pomuni
Together with the Flemish government, Belgapom (the Belgian potato trade & processing industry association) and the packer company Pomuni have set up a project to deliver on weekly basis 25 tonnes of washed and packed potatoes to about 650 foodbanks.

In the picture: Jos Mottar, president of the food banks federation, Romain Cools of Belgapom and Ben Muyshondt of Pomuni

The Belgian potato value chain has been seriously hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. More concretely, potatoes destined for processing into chilled and frozen potato products are facing uncertain times because of the global lockdown, which has caused the closure of the food service sector. Only in Belgium, about 750.000 tonnes of potatoes will not be able to be processed, having to find another way as food, feed or source of green energy.
In order to avoid food waste, Belgapom and the NGO ToGoodToGo have launched the project #SOSpatat, which asks consumers to buy an extra bag of frozen potato products to allow more rotation in the freezers and therefore making more space available for new production.

During the lockdown period due to coronavirus, the Belgian potato packer Warnez carried out several actions to help the most vulnerable groups of the population. Together with the company “la Maison Laruelle”, Warnez donated 3.500 kgs to different food banks in Belgium. Moreover, Warnez provided students in Leuven with extra vitamins during the COVID-19 lockdown period. As part of the #Ekonomikakiesweek, the students received a goodie bag in which they could find a pack of microwavable potatoes. In total, Warnez distributed 1.400 bags with potatoes among Leuven’s students.

Since the beginning of the spread of the corona virus in Europe and in Germany, the German Potato Trade Association DKHV has been committed to provide the best possible support for trading companies and the entire German potato industry. Besides communicating regularly to its members the state of information from politics, administration and practice, the association also addressed the public at an early stage with a press release, reporting on the good supply situation with potatoes and discouraging panic buying. Furthermore, DKHV is very pleased that, despite some challenges, the school garden project “Kids an die Knolle” takes place again this year and would like to thank all companies involved.

During the coronavirus crisis, the family-owned business Romagnoli F.lli SpA, one of Italy’s foremost marketers of potatoes, never closed to ensure a daily delivery of potatoes to consumers while keeping human health of employees as its number one concern. To this end, the Italian potato packer set an internal commission to create safety guidelines for workers and insured its employees through an insurance policy against coronavirus. Additionally, Romagnoli distributed among its staff shopping vouchers of 200 euros to support them during the very difficult times that the country was going through.
The Romagnoli company also donated 6.000 kg of potatoes to associations that work with needy families and 2.000 face masks to a retirement home in Bologna, in the north of the country. Moreover the Selenella Consortium, of which Romagnoli F.lli Spa is a relevant co-founding company, donated €100.000 to the Sant’Orsola Hospital of Bologna to face the coronavirus crisis.

The Netherlands is set to have at least one million tonnes of unwanted potatoes after the coronavirus lockdown closed restaurants and bars. In order to combat large-scale food waste, the campaign #benefrietjes has called citizens to eat more French fries and buy more potatoes to reduce the surplus. The Dutch Potato Organization (NAO) has taken part in the campaign as one of the board members of the Dutch Board for Agriculture (BO Akkerbouw), who is responsible for the campaign.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, the Portuguese potato trader Eurobatata has been aware of the very difficult times that citizens are going through nowadays. In Portugal, more and more families are asking for help from food banks. Eurobatata did its bit and donated 5.000Kg of potatoes to food banks operating in the Lisbon area, where the company is settled. As a responsible business, Eurobatata is committed to continue helping and donating whenever is possible. In the coming weeks, this Portuguese member of Europatat will donate some more tons of potatoes to thelp the most needy families in the country.

Patatas Meléndez
Given the serious impact of the coronavirus in the country, Patatas Meléndez, one of the biggest potato packers in the Spanish market, decided to define an donation plan that has consisted of several actions carried out since the beginning of the crisis.
Patatas Meléndez installed a food truck at Madrid’s field hospital, which was set up at the capital’s IFEMA exhibition center at the end of March to take in COVID-19 patients. Meléndez’s food truck provided complete daily meals for 400 volunteers and health staff working on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus disease.

In addition to this, Patatas Meléndez also donated 50.000 kg of potatoes to Madrid’s Food Bank, and distributed other 44.000 kg among parishes, soup kitchens and shelters in the Southern District of the city in coordination with the City Council. Together with the Red Cross Spain, the Castile and Leon-based company donated 50.000 kg of potatoes destined for the most needy families in this region. Furthermore, Meléndez’s employees personally distributed 500 masks and medical leaves among five old people’s homes in the city of Valladolid.

Members of Europatat’s Swedish associated member Potatisodlarna participated in the harvest of the first potatoes in Sweden, an annual tradition that took place on 29 April. This year, the harvested potatoes were packed in 250 gr packages that were distributed among health workers on the front line of the battle against COVID-19 in Swedish hospitals.

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