Potatoes are generally known as an inexpensive food. That is great for consumers throughout the world and it may actually help the potato market in the current rough economic conditions.
But - as a potato farmer - wouldn't it be great if you could charge a little extra?
In France, on the Island of Noirmoutier, they figured it out: instead of selling potatoes at the regular market price, they created a niche market for a specifically grown premier potato so exclusive that the potato ended up on this somewhat obscure list of the most expensive foods in the world:
Voila, La Bonnotte.
If you want to buy this spud, you probably can't even get it. And if you are on the list of the lucky few, you have to pay something like 35 Euro/kg (USD 50) and prices are said to go as high as 500 Euro (USD 700).
Noirmoutier, the only place where La Bonnote is grown
What makes "La Bonnotte" so special?
"La Bonnotte" is grown only on Noirmoutier, an island in the Atlantic ocean of the coast of France.
Annually, only about one hundred tons of the variety is harvested. Harvesting this variety is done by hand during the first week of May.
Since "La Bonnotte" is grown on soil that is regularly covered by the sea and fertilized by algae, it has a special salty potato taste, reminiscent of the sea.
An interesting fact for potato breeders working hard to adapt potato varieties to market requirements: The small, fragile Bonnotte does NOT meet those criteria. In fact, La Bonnotte deviates so much, that at a certain point in the past the Noirmoutier potato cooperation banned its cultivation.
Luckily that got corrected.
Although the exclusivity of "La Bonnotte" will not likely be outdone, it makes you wonder:
“what other opportunities for special potatoes are feasible?”
Just a few thoughts: a special variety, a special flavour, a special shape (did you notice the heart shaped potatoes offered by Tesco in the UK around Valentines day; yes, also from France), small size (a Canadian company is thriving on that concept), special nutritional properties, grown in a special location (although just 'local' may do as well).
Wouldn't upscale restaurants, farmers markets and the grocery isle be more interesting with a range of such potatoes?
Therefore, to all potato farmers out there, I challenge you to develop your own "Bonnotte". Think out of the box... To get you started on varieties, you may want to check out the potato variety atlas, over 4500 choices.
Let me know if you make progress and I will help with the marketing by featuring your "Bonnotte" on PotatoPro.