A while ago, a customer asked us for the Maris Piper. It's a very popular variety in the UK, where it’s grown, but we prefer to source our potatoes as locally as possible. That’s why we mainly work with Aardappelhandel Kouters, because they choose farmers here in West Brabant or Zeeland, and occasionally just over the border in Belgium. So we took the liberty of offering the customer an alternative instead: Agria.
He agreed to give it a try, and a few weeks later he came back to say that he actually preferred it over Maris Piper and would be switching from now on.
Impressive texture and taste
Although I was not surprised at his enthusiasm, it set me thinking about Agria. It really does deserve to be more widely recognised as a worthy alternative to Maris Piper. After all, end customers today are often looking for ‘all-round’ potato varieties that are suitable for a range of uses including boiling, deep-frying, roasting and mashing. The Maris Piper is currently regarded as the best variety in the UK, for example, but the Agria is a terrific all-rounder that’s particularly great for frying. In fact, a large percentage of the Agria potatoes we supply are exported to customers in the Middle East. They love the Agria because its texture means that it makes irresistibly crispy French fries. Taste is equally important, of course, and once again our customers are impressed by the Agria, which easily rivals the highly popular Maris Piper. Taste is a personal thing, of course, but the feedback is loud and clear: our customers’ customers are more than happy with the Agria, so we are too!
Excellent shelf life
Not only that, but Agria has the same resistances against nematodes and pests as Maris Piper, plus it’s stronger against potato viruses which means fewer production problems for farmers throughout the season. Besides that, Agria has an excellent shelf life; potatoes harvested at the end of the season in October will stay good until June or even July provided they are stored properly. As a result, the Agria is a popular and successful choice.
Like most new varieties, it took a while for Agria to catch on when it was first launched onto the market around 20 years ago, but it’s definitely gaining ground now. Here in the Netherlands, the Bintje used to be the most popular variety, but that’s been almost entirely replaced by Agria instead, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing happening to Maris Piper. Agria has strong potential for future growth. The BE Fresh order volumes say it all, really; we started off ordering one pallet a week of Agria, and we’re now up to five or six a week. So in my opinion Agria is definitely here to stay and has a very bright future ahead. It would be great to see even more customers discover the benefits of this all-round variety. If you aren’t familiar with it yet, all I can say is: give it a try!