Published online: Apr 17, 2009
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The coloring is caused by anthocyanin, the antioxidant thought to have cancer fighting properties.

"We think it will have a niche in the gourmet restaurant trade and among the health conscious," institute business manager Ivan Lawrie tells reporters at a field day in the South Island.

The government research institute is the only potato breeder in New Zealand.

Lawrie says the health qualities of potatoes are being studied with a view to producing cultivars with more health giving properties and the institute's varieties are being analyzed for the various antioxidants.

The institute's breeders work closely with the fresh potato market and potato processors.

"They are very much under the guidelines on what the market demands," Lawrie says. "That's been their success."

Many of the colored potatoes found in gardeners' markets are small and often odd shaped. Purple Heart is described as a normal potato in terms of growing and is relatively high yielding. It is medium size, quite large for a colored potato, and is smooth skinned.

"It tends to complete the portfolio of products we have on offer," Lawrie says.