KETCHUM, Idaho — Simplot Plant Sciences has obtained approval for its Innate brand of genetically modified potatoes in a few key foreign markets, including Japan, and has several other applications for foreign-market access pending.
Company spokesman Doug Cole said Simplot has no intention of exporting Innate into any foreign markets in the near term — though it may raise some Innate potatoes in Canada for distribution there.
For now, the approvals are intended only to minimize problems in case Innate materials are ever found commingled with conventional spuds shipped to sensitive export markets, Cole said.
“These countries would know how to test for (Innate) as part of the application process, and they would have our technical specifications,” Cole said, adding that having Innate already approved in a foreign market could prevent delays of U.S. exports following confirmation of accidental Innate commingling.
Cole said Simplot obtained approval to sell its first-generation Russet Burbank in Japan during August. First-generation Innate Burbanks, Atlantics and Ranger Russets — all bred to resist bruising, to avoid turning brown after cutting and to possess low levels of acrylamide, which is a potentially harmful chemical created during frying of some starchy foods — were approved last spring in Australia and New Zealand.
The company has also applied for first-generation approval in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Mexico, and plans to apply in the Philippines soon. He said Simplot has already received approval for second generation Innate varieties in both Canada and the U.S.
Domestically, Cole said Simplot recently sold out its inventory of Innate fresh potatoes, marketed under the White Russet label, for a third consecutive year. He said Innate was carried in roughly 4,000 supermarkets in 40 states. Cole said retailers and food service professionals have become willing to pay a premium for Innate potatoes because they avoid bruising, even late in the season when the problem is rampant. Cole said there’s never been an Innate load rejected for black-spot bruising during the three years in which it’s been commercially available.
Cole said 2018 Innate planted acreage should be similar to the 2017 crop.