24 July 2002

Potato traceability

ORGANIC potatoes are at the forefront of the drive to keep consumers informed of where, when and how crops have been grown.

Shoppers at Sainsbury can now check who grew their organic potatoes through a web-based traceability project, backed by supplier Greenvale AP.

The service is a response to consumer research studies showing more information is wanted on crop production. It effectively connects the entire food chain, says Greenvale.

Entering a five-digit number on the www.potatoinfo.org web-site reveals background information provided by growers, including reasons for going organic, farm rotation and efforts to encourage biodiversity.

Type in 34034 and you discover the crop is Nicola grown by Geoffrey Reynolds, a fourth generation farmer near Penzance, Cornwall, who entered 16ha (40 acres) into organic conversion in 1999. The farm is described as having a "stunning location set on a hill high above Newlyn harbour".

Enter 33835 and the service shows the crop of Valor was grown by the Atzmona vegetable co-operative of 20 producers in southern Israel.

Uptake of the scheme, which covers 30 mainly-UK growers, is being monitored. An extension to conventional produce is unlikely in the near future, says Greenvales James Waltham. &#42