View Comments
Customers will dictate standards: supermarkets
WA food ambassador Don Hancey with Pemberton potato grower Glen Ryan.

Retail giants Coles and Woolworths have responded to calls from local potato growers to ease their standards, saying it was up to consumers to set buying trends.

Growers in the Warren Blackwood have voiced their concerns with the grading system and specifications.

A Woolworths spokesman said specifications allowed for skin marks, eyes and washed and unwashed potatoes.

“Our customers understand it’s a natural product so there may be skin blemishes and eyes,” he said.

“Clearly customers will make the choice of what potato they buy.”

The spokesman said the Potato Board had not raised any concerns about the grading system.

“We’d be happy to talk to them if there was something they wanted to discuss,” he said.

A Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket always allowed for variations to specification when industry issues affected quality.

“Coles is also trying to increase potato consumption after a decline in recent years,” she said.

“To this end, we are keen to promote brushed potatoes and would like more brushed Delaware to be grown in WA.”

Pemberton Wash Packing Company owner Craig Ryan said the issue for growers was the gap between grade 1 and plain grade potatoes.

However Mr Ryan said he recalled numerous periods where potatoes grown in the area did not meet standards.

“I think some growers’ practices need to change — we’ve been set in the way we do things for quite a while,’’ he said.

Potato Marketing Corporation acting CEO Peter Evans said only a minority of growers had not evolved their practices.

“Growers as well as the PMC must work to achieve the best quality possible in a highly competitive environment,” he said.

Growers in the Warren Blackwood have voiced their concerns with the grading system and specifications.

A Woolworths spokesman said specifications allowed for skin marks, eyes and washed and unwashed potatoes.

“Our customers understand it’s a natural product so there may be skin blemishes and eyes,” he said.

“Clearly customers will make the choice of what potato they buy.”

The spokesman said the Potato Board had not raised any concerns about the grading system.

“We’d be happy to talk to them if there was something they wanted to discuss,” he said.

A Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket always allowed for variations to specification when industry issues affected quality.

“Coles is also trying to increase potato consumption after a decline in recent years,” she said.

“To this end, we are keen to promote brushed potatoes and would like more brushed Delaware to be grown in WA.”

Pemberton Wash Packing Company owner Craig Ryan said the issue for growers was the gap between grade 1 and plain grade potatoes.

However Mr Ryan said he recalled numerous periods where potatoes grown in the area did not meet standards.

“I think some growers’ practices need to change — we’ve been set in the way we do things for quite a while,’’ he said.

Potato Marketing Corporation acting CEO Peter Evans said only a minority of growers had not evolved their practices.

“Growers as well as the PMC must work to achieve the best quality possible in a highly competitive environment,” he said.