Our correspondent in Japan, Mariko Kihira reports that Calbee Inc. has launched a new crisp line from a potato variety bred and cultivated by contracted farmers of Calbee Potato Inc. (a company that distributes potatoes, provides agronomy advice to its contracted growers, and also trades and processes some of its potatoes as crisps). Independently from Calbee Inc., it bred its own variety ‘Poroshiri’ for crisp processing for more than 10 years.
The Poroshiri variety was registered as a Hokkaido-recommended variety in 2015. In 2017, it was registered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The variety is named after Mount Poroshiri in the Hidaka mountains in Hokkaido. ‘Poro’ means big and ‘Sir’ means land/mountain in Ainu who are native inhabitants of Hokkaido. Poroshiri was thus meant to mean ‘growing big’!
The Poroshiri variety’s heritage can be traced back to Norking Russet (bred in the USA in 1985) and Pike (bred in the USA in 1996). It is resistant to Potato cyst nematode (Globodera rostochiensis) and common scab. It is a medium season variety, has an oval shape with light brown color, and white flesh. The variety is very suitable to be processed into crisps. A further advantage of this variety is that the size and shape profile of tubers are very even.
Calbee Potato, Inc. started disseminating seed of the new variety in 2016. The planted acreage went up from 200ha in 2016 to 350 ha in 2017 in the Obihiro area of Hokkaido, and is expected to increase to 500 ha the coming season.
After a few years of development, Calbee, Inc. has launched two new crisp lines this month using Poroshiri potatoes cultivated in 2018 – Okhotsk sea salt and Kombu soy sauce flavor. The combination of sweetness of the Poroshiri variety and the mild and little salty soy souce flavor is perfect for the Japanese palate.
“We Japanese are big fans of dashi (=soup stock of kombu and/or bonito flakes) flavor. Dashi flavour form the base of many Japanese dishes. So, it is a special ingredient of the newly launched crisp!”