The Potato Variety Management Institute is soliciting proposals from private parties interested in the exclusive marketing rights of TerraRosa, a red-skinned, red-fleshed potato that has yet to catch on among U.S. growers.
If no party steps up to sublicense TerraRosa, PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons said her board will likely drop the variety, saving the organization roughly $8,000 to $12,000 it costs to protect it for 20 years.
TerraRosa seed was made available for the industry to try in 2010. Growers planted just a tenth of an acre of TerraRosa seed in 2011 and only a slightly larger amount this season.
TerraRosa, a full-sized, mid-season variety bred by Chuck Brown of the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Forage Crop Research Unit in Prosser, Wash., and a product of the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program, has similar characteristics to the fingerling variety AmaRosa. It's good for baking, microwaving, roasting and making chips and fries.
Debons said the agreement would allow a private party the option of sublicensing TerraRosa to other producers. She said controlling a variety enables the owner to differentiate from competitors. She said an exclusive arrangement entices owners to make the necessary investment to successfully market a specialty variety.
PVMI used the same strategy of awarding an exclusive marketing opportunity in 2009 with Purple Pelisse, a purple fingerling now controlled and marketed by Klamath Basin Fresh Direct as Purple Fiesta.
PVMI will accept proposals through Oct. 31. Debons hopes a proposal will be chosen by the end of November. If a suitable offer isn't made, she said her board will make a decision about the variety's future by the beginning of next year.
Debons said she's received several inquiries about TerraRosa from Europe, and a sublicensing agreement would likely cover only North America.
"I believe TerraRosa has a future here, as well as in Europe where the market for specialty varieties is more established," Debons said.
For more information regarding the proposal process, visit www.pvmi.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press