Research and breeding: optimise and look ahead
This doesn’t make selection by substantive quality characteristics any easier. A property such as dry matter or frying colour alone is nowadays no longer enough. HZPC has a lot of knowledge in this area that we use in variety development and strategic discussions with clients. We consider every aspect of a potato in its wider context. This benefits every grower, including organic ones. We look at potatoes as they fit into the big picture, serving the interests of people, the economy and the environment in a way that’s sustainable.
Market-driven and future-driven
Along with 39 affiliated breeders, our breeders search for potato characteristics that add value to the chains within the market sectors of HZPC: Traditional, Retail Fresh plus the three Processing Sectors of French Fries, Crisps and Peeled. We work with over 20 product profiles that the sectors combine with their markets in product-market combinations. Marker technology delivers the requisite fast, accurate determination of hereditary characteristics in new crosses.
Value chains demand more potatoes, and more suitable potatoes, for their customers: the growing middle-class in emerging economies. Moreover, as a living product the potato requires local production. This is environmentally-friendly and often has to be done under challenging agricultural and/or agronomic conditions such as extreme heat, drought and salinity - many exponentially-growing metropolises are to be found in fertile river deltas.
Our breeders form part of the sector teams and translate the demands, including of course future demands, from the market sectors to R&D. In this way we jointly develop, for example, Retail Fresh potato varieties that meet the requested product profiles within the various growing regions. Sometimes we develop distinct breeds for the value chains, such as Whitney for the US market or Orlena for the European yellow-fleshed potato market. We also develop widely utilisable varieties with a consistent taste such as Annabelle, Marylin, Jennifer and Leontine.
Fundamental and applied
Universities such as Wageningen University Research centre, increasingly depend on research funded by external parties, and thus have an increasing tendency towards applied science. In this sense, we ‘compete’ with each other, while breeding companies are in desperate need for the fundamental scientific research where Wageningen increasingly lacks funds.
Thanks to our cutting-edge R&D environment combined with international recruitment, HZPC manages to attract new colleagues with the appropriate competencies. HZPC R&D employs some 75 people. 40 percent of whom have a university, BSC or higher education, including 9 PhDs.