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Creamers - Golf ball-sized potatoes are big hit in stores, restaurants

 AR2011-06
Small potatoes aren't small potatoes anymore, at least when it comes to marketing delicious spuds.

At one time, small potatoes weren't considered market grade and were used as animal feed or tossed in the compost pile.

Now the golf ball-sized tubers are called creamers and sell for a premium in grocery stores and in higher-end restaurants.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on Wednesday unveiled 14 new potato varieties, including three new creamers as part of its national annual accelerated release program.

"One of the highlights of today is the presence of the specialty-market-type potato they call creamers,"said potato scientist Beniot Bizimungu, who runs the research program.

"Not long ago these were not even present in the market ... In the last couple of years they represent a trendy niche market."

Some creamer varieties grow up to 30 small potatoes on each plant.

Bizimungu said another benefit is that the creamer tends to mature early in the season, which brings a premium price.

Creamers don't have a specific taste. He said the taste is specific to each creamer variety.

"We have quite a range of selection to fit into different market segments,"he said of the 14 new varieties.

"We showcase our most advanced selections that have been through a number of years of testing and development for industry to look at and choose some to try... for commercialization."

In addition to the creamers, which can be boiled, baked or used in salads, there are three varieties bred for the french-fry market, one for potato-chip production and eight selections for the fresh market.

For the niche market, there are also two with coloured flesh: one purple and one red.

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Among a wide range of other activities - Agriculture and Agrifood Canada supports the Canadian Potato Industry with market information and research. The Potato Research Centre is one of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's network of 19 research centres.