PW-ACTUA KWS and Simplot launch Aardevo for hybrid potato breeding and marketing ‘which will greatly improve the profitibility for both grower and customer. With modern breeding techniques, we’ll definitely break through the current trends’, CEO Philip von dem Bussche had already said in an interview with Potato World magazine five years ago. With the new joint venture, Hoffman expects to be able to introduce the first hybrid variety in 2025. ‘The use of real potato seed as starting material instead of whole or cut tubers results in a more reliable start to cultivation in the long term’, beliefs Peter Hofmann of KWS. Since selling the seed potato business to Stet Holland in 2016, it’s been quiet around the potato activities of the German breeding giant KWS SAAT SE. On 2 October, the company suddenly announced that it had signed a joint venture agreement with the American French-fry processing company J.R. Simplot. ‘The task of this newly established company, with the Dutch name Aardevo (Potato Evolution), is to breed and market hybrid potato varieties’, says Peter Hofmann, member of the Management Board of KWS. The company expects to introduce the first hybrid variety onto the market in 2025. With the establishment of the Joint Venture Aardevo BV, located in Nagele, KWS and J.R. Simplot want eventually to provide the international potato market with hybrid potato varieties. Already in 2013, the then CEO of KWS emphasised that potato breeding needs a wind of change, Partnership is essential Through cooperation with Simplot, based on a 50-50 partnership, Hofmann expects to bring together both highquality research facilities and knowledge of the potato market. ‘From the very first day that we started with the hybrid potato breeding, we knew that working together with a partner would be essential for serving the market well. Like KWS, Simplot is a family business which has potatoes in its DNA’, Hoffman explains. The new Aardevo will focus on the cultivation of French fry – but also table and crisps varieties. ‘We’re going to offer varieties to the entire potato chain and not only focus on Simplot as a customer. If the new varieties are good enough, we’ll automatically find a market for them’, emphasises Hofmann. An important reason to work with Simplot is that it is a technologically-driven company. In America, the French-fry processor has been working for years on the development of Innate, a GMO line of potato varieties with quality characteristics and resistance. ‘In view of the controversy around GMO, we will, for the time being, focus exclusively on the development of hybrid varieties through traditional breeding’, Hofmann emphasises. Scott Simplot, Chairman of Simplot, expects a lot from the new joint venture: ‘Farmers have been growing the same commercial potato varieties for decades, while thousands of wild varieties with natural disease resistance, antioxidants, higher yields and other advantages are available. Aardevo will mainly focus on this.’ In order to speed up this process considerably, Aardevo will focus on creating diploid hybrid potato varieties. ‘These are better suited for conventional breeding than the traditional tetraploid varieties. Moreover, it’s our long-term ambition to provide growers with real potato seed. The use of real potato seed as starting material instead of whole or cut tubers provides a more reliable start to cultivation with less risk of disease and also offers advantages for the environment and storage’, Hofmann explains the future business model. Economic advantage The director of Aardevo is the Dutchman Paul van den Wijngaard. ‘He’s responsible for implementing the common objectives, namely the effective development of new potato varieties and a more efficient supply of basic material to the grower. This will ultimately bring economic benefit and lead to more profitable businesses throughout the value chain’, is Hofmann’s belief. ● 10 Potato World 2018 • number 4 Pagina 9

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