US: McDonald’s adds Northwest spud varieties to approved fry list

Ronald McDonald, mascot of McDonald’s Restaurants, visits with children at a Chubbuck, Idaho, restaurant in October 2015 during an event recognizing the Idaho potato industry. McDonald’s recently approved two new potato varieties developed in the Northwest — Clearwater Russet and Blazer Russet — to its exclusive list of spuds used in its french fries.Northwest potato breeding program officials anticipate an influx of seed-sale royalties following the recent additions of two of their protected varieties to a short list of spuds approved for making McDonald’s french fries. After several years of accepting only four potato varieties — Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet and Shepody — the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast-food restaurants added the Northwest variety Blazer Russet to the list earlier this year. On Sept. 13, McDonald’s confirmed to industry sources it’s also accepting the Northwest variety Clearwater Russet, and the foreign-developed spud Ivory Russet. “It’s something we have been expecting for over a year,” said Jeanne Debons, executive director of the Potato Variety Management Institute, which markets potatoes developed collaboratively by the Idaho, Oregon and Washington public potato breeding programs, including Blazer and Clearwater. Jeff Stark, director of University of Idaho’s potato breeding program, said McDonald’s rigorous demands set the industry standard. More