Remco Koeman and Matthijs Kloek, Den Hartigh, Emmeloord: ‘We have a broad perspective that allows us to serve the entire playing field in the potato sector.’

Remco Koeman

RK: ‘The most interesting thing about this question for us is, what do you focus on? As a breeder and a trading company, your always look first at who your customers are and what they need. Our customer base can be split into two main groups: the seed potato growers in the Netherlands and the buyers of the seed potatoes they grow. Most of the latter are ware potato growers abroad. Both main groups have their own requirements. In our view, when it comes to focus, there’s always a matter of differentiation. On the one hand you have the breeder who often takes a long-term view and on the other there’s the grower who’s more concerned with every-day problems. In order to get a clear picture of the direction we need to follow as breeders, we make trend analyses for each customer segment. For example, what we observe among growers is the search for answers to problems related to climate change. Think of brief hot spells, longer periods of drought, cases of flooding, and soil salinisation. And then there are the ensuing pests and diseases reflected in the increased damage caused, for example, by viruses and nematodes. For us, these are again spearheads in variety breeding. If we focus on the potato processors, it’s clear to us that the most important trend is the enormously growth in this segment. As a breeding company, you could decide to devote more attention to this. And if we look at the consumers, we notice an increasing interest in healthy food in this segment with more attention to low-calorie foods that are also rich in antioxidants. MK: ‘The great thing is that we can respond to all these trends, because we have two breeding companies, Den Hartigh and Solanum, which together cover all these aspects. So, we have a broad perspective that allows us to serve the entire playing field in the potato sector. If there’s more demand for French-fry potatoes, we’ll try to breed those. If they need to be climate-proof and to have more resistances, then that’s what we’re going to look for. The young French-fry variety, King Russet, is a result of this approach. It’s a block-shaped potato with a length from which you can cut a lot of fries with very little loss. In addition, it’s not affected by internal defects and has broad nematode resistance from A to E. We see that the French-fry market currently needs this.’

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 on the Variety Presentation Days, click here.