Europa: Low-carb potatoes on the rise
Potatoes contain many good nutrients, but they have a somewhat negative image because they’re a source of starch. Starch is a carbohydrate, which is known for being fattening. A potato with fewer carbs should be the solution.
Low-carb potatoes are getting attention throughout the world. In recent years, a number of varieties were introduced that are lower in carbs than conventional potatoes. Agrico introduced new potato variety Carisma in 2015, and this contains naturally slowly digestive carbs. An average Carisma potato of 150 grammes contains 70 calories, while a regular potato could contain as much as 100 calories. With Carisma, Agrico responds to consumer’s needs for responsible and healthy food. Carisma came about due to a natural cross of a combination of existing potato varieties. An extensive screening of nutritional values of various potato varieties, Carisma turned out to contain slow carbohydrates. Slow carbs ensure the body receives the energy in doses, which reduces the urge to eat. When developing the variety, Agrico worked with partners in Australia, where the potato variety was marketed in 2010. The country is a global frontrunner in the field of knowledge and research into the role of a low glycemic index (low GI). Carisma is available at supermarket chains Albert Heijn and Emté in the Netherlands.
Since 2016, Carisma is also being grown in Canada. The potato was first offered in Ontario in October of that year, and later it could also be found on the shelves of Canadian supermarkets. The producer said they were happy to be able to offer a potato with a low glycemic index. “People pay attention to their intake of carbs nowadays, which wasn’t good for potatoes. Carisma has a lower glycemic value, which means the potato doesn’t cause a rapid increase of the blood sugar levels. Because of this, the potato can be recommended to consumers who want to manage their blood sugar level, such as diabetes patients, sportspeople and people who are dieting. With Carisma, anyone can enjoy potatoes.”
Fewer calories internationally
The Scottish company Grampian Growers also announced a new potato variety in 2015. Food experts discovered that the Gemson potato had a few characteristics that are favourable to the environment. For example, the variety produces less waste, and it results in a larger production than Maris Peer, one of the largest British potato varieties. Research shows the Gemson potato is similar to the Maris Peer potato regarding nutritional values, but that the Gemson has fewer carbohydrates. The Gemson potato was introduced on the British market in 2015, and is available form retailers in the UK and Ireland.
Potandon Produce from Idaho introduced a new potato variety in the autumn of 2017, and this potato had an exceptional claim for a product this rich in starch. According to the producer, the CarbSmart potato contains 55 per cent fewer carbs than rice or pasta. With the low-carb potato, Potandon Produce responds to the recent trend of convenient, interesting and innovative products, with which people hope to improve the stagnating sales of fresh potatoes. For the producer, this is the first step in what could become a range of potatoes grown for specific health aspects.
In New Zealand, a new low-carb potato of T&G Global became a success within a few weeks. The new variety, Lotato, was grown in the Netherlands by crossing two existing potato varieties, Agria and Rua. These two varieties were crossed because of their good yield, look and flavour. Additional advantage is that the potatoes contain 40 per cent fewer carbs. T&G Global’s general manager, Andrew Keaney: “More and more people avoid products with many carbohydrates, such as potatoes, because these make them feel full and tired more quickly. Lotato is easier to digest and gives more energy.” Lotatoes are only available in New Zealand, but T&G Global has already received requests from the UK, Europe and Uruguay. According to Keaney, growers would like to buy the seed potatoes to grow their own Lotatoes. T&G Global has an exclusive agreement with supermarket chain Countdown for the sales of the variety.
Putting a positive spotlight on potatoes in general
Years ago, HZPC developed and introduced the Sunlite concept: Potatoes with 30 per cent fewer calories than regular potatoes. Varieties that are part of Sunlite are, among other ones, Colomba and Carrera. Due to the genetics of these varieties combined with adapted production methods, these can be grown with 30 per cent les kcal. “Only when a batch has the maximum of 58 kcal per 100 grammes, can the potatoes be offered in the Sunlite packaging. According to Dutch guidelines, a regular potato has 83 kcal per 100 grammes,” says Michiel ten Duis, Sector Manager Retail Fresh for HZPC.
A customer of Sunlite in the US was the first to bring the Sunlite concept to supermarkets, where the diet potato was enthusiastically received. In Spain, Italy and Cyprus, the people were also introduced to locally grown potatoes under the Sunlite concept in recent years. The Sunlite potatoes will soon also be on the shelves of a Polish supermarket chain. “The Polish people are becoming increasingly aware of health trends. All kinds of new fresh concepts are introduced here, also to be more distinctive from other supermarkets. It’s a segment that’s still fully in development, and we’ll have to wait and see how things will develop, but this market will offer many opportunities in future,” he says. The Sunlite potatoes are also on the shelves in New Zealand. According to Michiel, the concept suits the ‘healthy,’ ‘beachy,’ and ‘active’ lifestyle of the country. “The potato is affiliated with local sports clubs here, which emphasises the healthy character of the concept even more.”
Michiel says there’s definitely interest in the low-carb potatoes. This is also the case for other health aspects, such as antioxidants, with which the Perupas potatoes score. “We expect more and more focus on personal diets and dietary patterns in the future, although I can’t say whether that will also become mainstream in the potato segment. At the same time I think it’s important to put a positive spotlight on potatoes in general. The potato is and will always be an incredibly healthy, tasty and very diverse product. Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn, for example, has recently been doing this with their renewed potato department. Helping and inspiring consumers with a broad range of potatoes that have various culinary uses for every lifestyle, and provided with information about flavour and methods of preparation. This way, they hope to give the potato consumption a boost. Albert Heijn offers our variety Colomba, produced and packed by Nedato, as a potato with 30 per cent fewer calories under the AH Excellent label.”