2 May 2000
Jersey on alert for spud rustlers
By FWi staff
GROWERS on the Channel Island of Jersey have been forced to launch a Spudwatch initiative because people are stealing potatoes from their fields.
Farmers are regularly patrolling fields to deter people from digging up a few rows of new season potatoes to take home for the dinner table.
The worst time for pilfering is a few hours before Sunday lunch. Grower Mike Labey said: “There are clearly people who cant resist the temptation.”
Although the extent of the thefts might seem insignificant, the islands potato trade could be seriously affected if everyone had a go, added Mr Labey
More than one in four consumers would pinch a few Jersey Royal potatoes if they thought no one was looking, claims the Jersey Royal Growers Association.
The British Potato Council believes that early potatoes are one of the most looked-forward-to arrivals on the culinary calendar.
According to a BPC survey, 86% of people are aware of the start of the season which began on Monday (1 May).
More than 300,000 tonnes of early potatoes will be lifted across the country, starting in Cornwall and reaching the colder climes of Scotland by July.
A promotional campaign this year aims to encourage consumers to shake off the winter by enjoying the fresh, new flavour of home-grown early potatoes.
A double-decker bus will also be calling at supermarkets around the country this month. On-pack promotions will be available on British potatoes from June.
Richard Watson Jones, vice president of the National Farmers Union, is a potato grower from Shropshire.
He said: “This promotion should let even more people know about the versatility and nutritious value of the great British potato.
About 6% of the potato crop area in Britain is planted with early varieties which meet 60% of Britains total requirement for first early potatoes.