21 September 2001
French shoppers get spud info

By Andrew Swallow

FRENCH potato growers claim to have a new system that gives consumers the traceability they want without divulging too many secrets to produce-buyers.

The French national interprofessional potato organisation, CNIPT, has developed the system called TraceNet, a databank run by an independent third party.

Growers lodge their crop record data with TraceNet, which then gives consumers access to general information such as exactly where the produce comes from.

More detailed information, like inputs, is confidential and is only released by a CNIPT ethics committee in the event of a food scare.

TraceNet was launched last week at the third International Technical and Commercial Potato Show near Paris.

The data on the system may also be used for statistical purposes, or as a back-up in a dispute between grower and buyer.

But CNIPT technical director Aymard de Montigny says it is not available for buyers to use in negotiations because of the indication it gives of growing costs.

“It is confidential in the interests of everybody, especially the farmers. I am a potato grower and even I dont want to give all that information to the buyer.”

Shoppers will be given access to the information through in-store traceability terminals.

“You will be able to put the ticket into the machine and see where it was grown, on what soil and the variety,” explains TraceNets Thierry Grenier.

This information is already available in some French supermarkets for tomatoes and salad crops.

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