J.R. Simplot’s Doug Cole Talks White Russet™ Potatoes and Innate® Technology
BOISE, ID - New to the market and ready to show off its specialty-bred environmental and health benefits, J.R. Simplot’s White Russet™ potato are a family of varieties that have been developed over the past 14 years using the company’s potato-only bioengineering technology, Innate®, to select for traits that will aid consumer, growers, and retailers alike.
Among the most notable of these benefits are that White Russet™ potatoes have a trait that makes them stay white when cut or peeled, keeping them looking fresher for longer. The same trait reduces the number of black spots from bruising, resulting in potatoes that are less prone to bruising during storage and handling. Both these traits eliminate the problem many potatoes get from going to market and costs growers millions of dollars every year.
“This development is really a big deal for both farmers and consumers. Growers don’t pack-out bruised potatoes as U.S. #1s in the fresh market, and consumers view them as spoiled so they often get wasted,” Doug Cole, Director of Marketing and Communications at Simplot Plant Sciences tells me. “We’ve done the projections, and converting fresh russets to White Russet™ potatoes could save as much as 400 million lbs. of potatoes from being wasted each year. This also means saving $90 million in producer costs, 60 million lbs. of CO₂ emissions, and 6.7 billion gallons of water.”
According to J.R. Simplot, White Russet™ provides the following potential benefits:
- Up to 44% reduction in black spot bruising from handling
- Up to 70% less acrylamide than other russets cooked at the same high temperatures
- Fewer wasted acres prevent up to 170,000 acre-applications of pesticide sprayings
- Consumers will throw away an estimated 30% fewer potatoes
With all these added components to the White Russet™ potato line, you can see why educating consumers is one of the company’s key missions in getting the word out. White Russet™ potatoes are packaged with a QR code, website and 1-800 number leading to more information for consumers.
So what’s next on the horizon for the company bringing this “super potato” to the market?
“We’re getting ready for our second generation of the Innate® potato to be in stores as early as 2017 based on regulatory approval,” Cole continues. “Generation two has resistance against late blight disease, which caused the Irish potato famine. With this special resistance to the variety of blight that’s most seen in the U.S. and Canada, growers will potentially be able to cut up to half the amount pesticides used to address it.”