The content of this blog originates from the article on the Potato Variety Days 2021 published in PotatoWorld magazine 2022/01.
By Zindziwe Janse, Jaap Delleman and Leo Hanse.
During the Potato Variety Days 2021, we asked participating breeding companies about the key focus of their breeders in their search for new varieties. In this blog post you may read the answer given by Joris van der Lee, Commercial Director of Agroplant, Medemblik (NL):
For their focus on breeding, Agroplant receives market information from customers and partners from all over the world. ‘We sell in over fifty countries and have feelers everywhere to get information. Everyone is facing challenges due to the changing climate and the fewer available crop protection agents, so everyone is looking for that famous robust variety’, says Commercial Director Joris van der Lee.
‘Our strength lies mainly in exports. We’d like to offer those export areas the right potato variety but, in the end, you only know whether varieties are suitable when you’ve tried them there. Market and regulations are changing everywhere, continuously. A variety that you think is very good today may be discarded next year, or may become more suitable due to changes in the available resources. When a preservative is abolished, you move towards a variety that has better storage properties’, explains Van der Lee. ‘We do have a vision for our own varieties, for where we want to go with them. Bernice, for example, one of our newest varieties, is a strong and good variety, mainly for export. We hesitated for a long time about whether we should register it, because it’s almost in the same segment as our own Actrice, our most important variety. But we now see that customers for whom Bernice is an addition, also keep the same volume of Actrice. A whole new market is opening up for such a variety. The luck factor is also a very large part of breeding work. The fact that we’re active in thirty countries with Actrice, for example, gives us the opportunity to test things globally. When we have something new, we can easily send it all over the world’, says the Commercial Director. For the development of new varieties Agroplant works partly with hobby growers and partly with its own programmes at Fobek. ‘We have an export programme there, a French-fry programme, a crisp programme and so on. We try to be present in every segment, which results in risk spreading. Our own varieties are not yet very successful in the industry, but we did register our own first potato crisp variety, Red Sky, last year. That’s a very nice addition and it also opens doors. What’s more, several French-fry numbers are now being seriously tested by the industry. I see that the industry is looking for replacements for some varieties, as they’re running into issues like virus susceptibility. I’ve noticed that they’re now looking at what smaller companies have to offer. And growers are also looking for a new product range. In the end, we just want to serve our customers, find what they’re looking for’, Van der Lee concludes.
Want to keep reading about the Potato Variety Days?
In the run-up to the event we published an e-book that you can download here!
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