TRADE AND MARKET I NG There is still plenty of room for new French-fry varieties Lammert Buwalda, Royal-ZAP/Semagri, Wieringerwerf: ‘It’s a matter of starting somewhere and waiting for a chance hit.’ ‘There is and always will be a demand for new French-fry varieties and that will never change. Only the standard of varieties has been raised to such a high level that it’s terribly difficult to replace the existing varieties. What we’re increasingly looking for nowadays is the integration of resistances. That’s something we can’t avoid. But it’s extremely difficult, because inserting resistances is often accompanied by a reduction in yield. And that’s exactly the challenge for the grower, which is why we do this work. It’s a matter of starting somewhere and waiting for a chance hit. I’ve worked with breeders who tried to look fifteen years ahead, hoping that they’d have exactly the right variety available at that time. And I’ve worked with breeders who said: ‘I see two potential cross parents here. If we are to mix them, it should undoubtedly result in something beautiful.’ I can tell you that the latter category always had the most results. An example of this is the Primavera. A very good early/mid-early variety that’s perfect for French fries and that stands head and shoulders above existing varieties. But also a variety for which we couldn’t immediately find the right market. Two characteristics in which Primavera excels are drought resistance and length. Now, if we’ve just had a dry season with a short chip length, suddenly you’ll see the interest grow. This is basically because, in the previous year, the variety had already received the attention of the processers and now it just had that little boost. So coincidence, luck and availability at the right time mean that new varieties get a chance. And yes, that won’t change. Jan-Eric Geersing, Geersing Potato Specialist, Emmeloord: ‘New French-fry varieties must excel in at least one characteristic, but in fact have two good ones.’ ‘Yes, there’s clearly room for new French-fry varieties, but I’d add right away, they must excel in at least one characteristic, but in fact have two good ones. And the problem for a grower is that the second characteristic is not always immediately available when a variety’s introduced. For example, you have an upcoming whitefleshed variety with strong Phytophthora resistance, but the market potential isn’t there or not yet, because yellow-fleshed is the most sought after at that moment. The trick is to introduce the right plus characteristic in combination with a sales opportunity. Our Cammeo is a striking example of this. It’s a young variety with strong Phytophthora resistance. Its high yield makes it attractive to both organic and conventional potato growers. This variety was first meant for the table potato market, partly because of its fine presentation and taste. We knew that you can fry a nice chip from it, but we didn’t give it any priority. Now it turns out, given the competition, that in the absence of better French-fry varieties in the organic segment, the French-fry quality of a Cammeo is very good. So, at this point, we’ve been too strict in the selection. The interest in the variety as suitable for French fries is receiving extra support from the covenant signed last year by the chain. It’s attracting the attention of the signatories. Furthermore, the conventional market now also wants planet-proof products. That extra positioning of the Cammeo as French fries is a complete surprise for us, but nevertheless a pleasant one. So you see that there’s always an opportunity for new French-fry varieties that excel in something and especially when they’re good at something else as well. Potato World 2019 • number 3 31 Pagina 30

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