Farmers fight to reclaim the 'British New Potato'

Date:13-08-2013 07:58:04 read:7

Farmers fight to reclaim the 'British New Potato'

Furious potato growers are going head to head with supermarkets and restaurants in a campaign to reclaim the "British New Potato".

Farmers fight to reclaim the 'British New Potato' Photo: ALAMY

The Potato Council is acting after a growing number of complaints that the classic new potato has become an all-year-round term used to describe a "small" or baby spud.

New guidelines have been drawn up describing new potatoes as those which are harvested between May and October, put on the supermarket shelf within a matter of days, and at least partially covered by a layer of thin skin that can rubbed off with a finger.

The council claims that any new potatoes stored for more than a couple of days, or sold outside of the traditional season, can no longer be classified as British new potatoes.

Trading standards officials at South Ayrshire Council called for action after a complaint by a local shopper.

The council bought potatoes from big name stores such as Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco between January and March this year and asked them for planting and harvesting information. Aldi and Iceland refused.

A spokeswoman said: "In nearly all of the samples, the potatoes had been harvested for some time before going on sale. In one case they didn't go on sale until March but had been harvested in August last year."

The Potato Council said the new guidelines will remove confusion and "celebrate the British season".

Caroline Evans, head of marketing, said: "Small salad potatoes need to be available all year round as they are a quick and tasty option. But we've lost the seasonality of the new potato, which means we can miss out on enjoying something extra special.

"Our description of a New Potato means that you know when you're enjoying them at their seasonal best."

Bruce Kerr, a grower from Suffolk, added: "We used to call them scraping potatoes as they would be available early and with a skin you can just rub off. You can't beat a proper new potato as they are specially grown and packed full of taste."

The push comes amid rising sales of British produce, which stores put down to customers wanting to buy UK-grown fruit and vegetables. The hot summer has also triggered bumper harvests of cherries and even apricots.

Marks & Spencer last night said it was fully supportive of the Potato Council's work. Peter Tinkler, M&S potato buyer, said: "We've worked with our farmers to make sure our new potatoes are the freshest on the high street."

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013