TRADE AND MARKET I NG There is still plenty of room for new French-fry varieties Tigran Richter, Norika/Binst, Sanitz (D): ‘For every interesting variety that performs better than what we already have, there’s a chance in the market.’ ‘Before I answer your question, I need to explain a little about the history of Norika. Twenty-five years ago, we still operated as a breeding company in the former East Germany (GDR). At that time, there was no question of French-fry production or consumption. So it wasn’t until 1990, after the fall of the Wall, that Norika started with a breeding programme for French fries. Why? Because, after privatisation, a total of seven processors, French-fry manufacturers including a big name like Stöver, became the owners of the breeding station. And we’ve been attending these Variety Presentation Days for several years jointly with Binst, as they have 98% of our varieties in their package. So much for the history, now the answer to your question. You know how long it takes before you have the right genetics available in potato breeding. That alone takes twelve years. Only then can you seriously start crossing and that easily takes another ten years. With a bit of luck, you’ll have one or more promising French-fry varieties in your package in 25 years. And we were lucky. We now have two Frenchfry varieties that we think can compete with existing varieties, the Ikarus and the Linus. The Ikarus is an early variety with strong resistance to Ro1 nematode and pathotype 1 wart disease. Furthermore, the variety is fairly virus resistant and that’s a characteristic that will be particularly in the spotlight this season, given the many problems in that area. The latter characteristic also applies to the Linus, which is also fairly resistant to the Rhizoctonia and Phytophthora bacterial diseases. I just want to illustrate with this that, for every interesting variety that performs better than what we already have, there is an opportunity in the market, and this is an answer to your question. Another promising factor for new French-fry varieties is that processors don’t want to gamble on processing one variety or having one supplier. The first important thing is to ensure that there’s an alternative if things go wrong with the crop or with the processing of an existing variety and the second is a financial argument, the negotiating price.’ Jeroen Kuin, Agroplant, Medemblik: ‘No customer wants to depend on only one or two varieties for processing.’ ‘The answer is yes, there certainly is room for new French-fry varieties. If only because no customer wants to depend on only one or two varieties for processing. If, as a breeder, you want to add something – better processing, better shape, more kilograms of yield and/or dry matter – there are always possibilities. However, the bar is very high, with a new variety everything has to be just right. And it’s not at all easy to break into the European French-fry segment. At Agroplant, we’ve only been breeding for ten years and when it comes to French-fry varieties, only five years. For this, we work together with Fobek, in which we have a share as a trading company. A variety we already have is the Metro, with which we’re really successful. This is a typical French-fry variety for export to big customers like Cuba, and we also sell to Pakistan and we’ve recently also been registered in Bangladesh. It’s an excellent variety for the production of French fries in faraway countries, but not for the European premier league. Although, this year, the manufacturers would have been very happy with the Metro, because it has exactly the characteristics that the European varieties lacked this year: drought and heat resistance combined with a high yield. Last year, we already had 120 hectares of seed potato cultivation and we hope to have 160 hectares this year. So this is where our opportunities lie when it comes to the introduction of new French-fry varieties.’ Potato World 2019 • number 3 35 Pagina 34

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