US: Students dig in to help create new value from potatoes

Sterman Masser, Pennsylvania’s largest potato producer, knows consumers aren’t reaching for 5- and 10-pound bags of raw potatoes like they used to. Growing its business means adding more new and convenient products, so the company is eyeing a new spot in the grocery store’s produce department: the ready-to-eat, precut fruits and vegetables section. The national supplier is building upon its history of innovation to solve several problems. For example, cut potato flesh browns in 10 days — a fraction of the shelf-life of a raw, whole potato. Students in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are working on finding solutions to that problem, plus the challenge of winning consumers over to a new product. “We’re trying to take potatoes to that next level and stay relevant,” said Dave Masser, president of Sterman Masser, and also a College of Ag Sciences alumnus. More