University research shows new potato is a ‘Gem’-son
University research has shown that a relatively new small potato introduced to the UK could be a wee ‘gem’ for the Scottish economy.
The potato variety Gemson, a small salad variety, has recently been introduced to the UK market by Grampian Growers Ltd.
The potato variety Gemson has a positive impact on the environment. It produces less waste and can offer higher yields for the farmer in comparison to its main competitor, Maris Peer.
Nutritional experts from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh have also shown that Gemson potatoes offer good nutritional benefits and were considered by consumers to be equally as tasty as the market leader, Maris Peer.
The humble potato is an important crop for Scotland, both for the health of its people and for the Scottish economy. The potato industry in the UK is currently valued at £4.1bn across all sectors. The Scottish potato industry can be split between seed and ware (consumption) production with a combined annual value of close to £100m annually.
Dr Laura Wyness from the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation at Queen Margaret University, said: “Potatoes are a really important part of a healthy diet and our consumer panel confirmed that they are generally viewed as a wholesome, nutritious, natural food, which is both versatile and cheap.
Dr Wyness continued: “Potatoes are a dietary staple, helping the body gain micronutrients and fibre as well as carbohydrate. They are low in fat and offer a useful source of vitamin C.
“Potatoes are a nutrient dense food. This means that when you consume potatoes you gain lots of nutrients without overdoing the calories.”
Dr Wyness said: “When analyzing the nutritional profile, our research showed that Gemson potatoes had a very similar nutritional content to its main competitor, Maris Peer, but was lower in calories.
“Having assessed appearance, taste, texture and overall liking during consumer taste trials, the panel reported that they enjoyed both Gemson and Maris Peer. There was little difference between them.”
The variety Gemson is a relatively new potato. It has been developed by the James Hutton Institute in Dundee and Grampian Growers, the latter which holds the world-wide marketing rights. It is currently available for sale at major retailers in the UK and Ireland.
Sandy McGowan, General Manager at Grampian Growers, who has driven the introduction of the new Gemson potato to Scotland and the rest of the UK and Ireland, has over 10 years’ experience in developing new varieties for market.
He explained: “We had established that Gemson has a positive impact on the environment including higher yield and less wastage compared to competitor varieties. Queen Margaret University’s research has confirmed that the sensory qualities – specifically taste and texture – are also highly acceptable to consumers and on an equal footing to the main baby potato competitor, Maris Peer. The research has allowed us to establish the facts about the nutritional content and consumer preference, arming us with essential information to assist in further developing our marketing strategy. We now have in depth taste and sensory knowledge of Gemson that backs up its superior agronomic benefits to the potato grower and packer, and gives us real confidence in expanding Gemson’s share of the baby potato market in the UK and Ireland.”
Miriam Smith, Development Manager at Queen Margaret University, said: “By accessing university knowledge, expertise and specialist facilities Grampian Growers is now armed with the facts and can confidently market Gemson potatoes to the UK food market.”
Miriam concluded: “There is a wealth of expertise available within Scottish higher education. We need to create more awareness amongst SMEs that universities can help them diversify, grow and establish new routes to market. Not only does Queen Margaret University have outstanding specialist facilities as part of its new Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation, it also has access to funding streams and innovation vouchers which is vital in helping small businesses achieve their potential.”
This research was funded by a £5k innovation voucher from Interface.