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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 April, 2003, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Potato farmers eye rivals
There are currently 23 Cornish Early producers in the Penwith area
Cornish new potato growers are set to take on their international rivals.

The Cornish Early new potato is about to come into season and a campaign has been launched to encourage outlets to sell it and the public to eat it.

After years of market domination by new potato imports from Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, the Cornish Early is being put back on the map.

There are currently 23 Cornish Early producers in the Penwith area, growing 200 acres of the crop which is expected to yield around 2000 tonnes this year.

Potato Bus Stops, 30 April
Folly Field car park, Marazion (opposite St. Michael's Mount), From 1000 BST
Safeway car park, Penzance, from 1400 BST
Eye-catching bus

It is the earliest new potato to be lifted in Britain, and is known as a short season delicacy because it is in season for only three weeks from the end of April.

It is grown only in west Cornwall, where the mild winters enable farmers to plant the crop in late December or early January to ensure an early harvest.

Point of sale material, table cards and recipe ideas are being made available to encourage local retail and catering outlets to support the campaign.

Major outlets

And major retail outlets including Asda, Safeway and Somerfield have committed to stocking this season's crop in their Cornwall stores, as well as major wholesalers supplying trade customers.

Supporting the Cornish Early potato campaign, which kicks off next week, the British Potato Council (BPC) is sending its eye-catching double-decker potato bus to Cornwall.

The bus is going to be used to give out free samples of the small, locally-grown potatoes.

The countrywide campaign to promote the Cornish early new potato is being supported by Penwith Farm Business Centre, with support from Penwith District Council and Cornwall Taste of the West, the 3 million Objective One umbrella project, financed through the European Agricultural Guarantee and Guidance Fund.

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