20 November 1998

Go Dutch, seed potato men urged

SCOTTISH growers have lessons to learn from the Dutch on presenting seed potatoes, according to Diana Rees, the British Potato Councils head of marketing.

"The Scots are very good at what cant be seen in terms of seed health and quality. But the Dutch are better at what can be seen, providing even samples with no skin blemishes very well presented," she told the VTSC growers annual conference in Aviemore.

"There is an opportunity for you to improve the appearance of your seed. But if you stick to high quality and high seed health then you have a bright future in Britain, Europe, and the world. What is produced in other countries, including England, is not at that end of the quality spectrum and even the Irish admit there is a lot to admire in Scottish seed."

SAC potato expert John Anderson wanted to know if BPC could stimulate exports of seed and table potatoes at the same time. Ms Rees replied that there was more synergy than conflict and doubted if successful, large scale promotions could be mounted for seed alone.

She promised a seed production think-tank and marketing that would include supermarket buyers. BPC will also conduct a detailed survey of the needs of processors as well as the table trade.

An initial survey of 99 English ware growers suggests they buy Dutch seed because of presentation and size grading and Scottish seed because of its traditional high health status. "Many have been unhappy with the way Dutch seed has performed in the field and that should give you hope for the future," said Ms Rees.