Comber Earlies get an EU makeover
COMBER earlies have always been regarded as a delicacy by local consumers.
However, 2012 is shaping up to be a particularly special year for potato growers in the North Down area. This follows the recent attainment of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Comber Earlies under an EU scheme which promotes and protects names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.
But Lewis Cunningham, managing director of leading potato packer Wilson’s Country is confident that the PGI breakthrough will lead to bigger and better things for the local potato industry.
“We want to build on the heritage of Comber earlies in ways that will particularly encourage young people to enjoy what can only be described as the unique taste experience that is associated with these potatoes.
“Already this year we are working with local growers to bring forward new varieties, such as Maris Peer to the market. In this way Comber potatoes can be used in a host of new ways, from salads through to the more traditional options.”
Maurice Maxwell, the man in charge of the EU Office in Northern Ireland, agrees: “PGI status officially sets Comber Earlies apart as a unique product with distinct eating characteristics,” he confirmed
“This extremely welcome development gives the local potato industry a tremendous opportunity to further promote the qualities of these unique potatoes. And I am delighted that Wilson’s Country and the potato sector as a whole will be playing an active role in this regard.”
Newtownards potato producer Derek Erwin is growing Maris Peer earlies for the first time this year.
“The crop is now in full flower,” he added. “If the weather holds, the potatoes should be in the shops over the coming weeks.
“The recent spell of warm weather has brought crops on tremendously. As a result, eating quality should be excellent.”
Mr Cunningham commented that Wilson’s Country intend to feature the PGI symbol on the Comber Earlies bags over the coming weeks.
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