13 August 1999

Choose potato for end market

NEARLY two-thirds of potato growers are ignoring the end market when choosing the variety they plant.

A survey by the British Potato Council showed that only 41% of growers said variety choice was influenced by the end market.

"Clearly this must be addressed if crops are to find good homes at good prices, especially when buyers have plenty of choice," BPC marketing boss, Diana Rees, told a recent news conference in Edinburgh. She urged seed producers to take the lead and look beyond their immediate customer to what consumers would be buying.

"Consumer panels, looking at things like appearance, taste, and texture, are becoming ever more important in retailing. These panels indicate what consumers will buy and they should also be steering what is grown and what is being bred.

"This presents a major challenge, because consumer tastes may change more quickly than can long-term breeding programmes. It means that good communication right along the line will be critical," she said.

BPC chairman, David Walker, blamed speculative growers for ignoring end customer needs. He promised the BPC would ensure research was done to allow taste and texture to be incorporated in seed development programmes. &#42