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As we think about how we’re going to move up the value-chain as an industry, we need to understand the opportunities that exist outside the traditional processing activities for potatoes.

There are a lot of interesting applications for potato fractions that provide exciting opportunities for our growers here in NZ.  Some of them are highly innovative and serve to highlight the versatility of the potato as a source of raw material for ingredient applications.

In response to this challenge to develop innovative potato-based products, Potatoes NZ Inc. has formed an Innovation Group to focus specifically on developing the capability of the NZ potato industry in product innovation .

Innovation Group members

Andrew McLeod

CEO, Douglas Nutrition Ltd

Dr Jaspreet Singh

Senior Research Officer, Riddett Institute

Dr Jocelyn Eason

General Manager Science, Food Innovation, Plant and Food Research

Champak Mehta

Past CEO, PNZ Inc.

Dacey Balle

Grower representative, Balle Bros Group

Clint Smythe

Innovation Group Chair PNZ Inc. Board representative

Key Areas of Specific Consideration

  • Stimulate innovative thinking within the NZ potato industry in the post-harvest space.
  • Develop new ideas and innovations that can add value to NZ potatoes.
  • Create value out of the potato industries’ waste stream.
  • Identify opportunities for potatoes to be included in new products, new formats and new categories.
  • Facilitate the linking of value-chain partners to launch new potato-based products in the New Zealand and international market place.
  • Co-fund grower/trade member innovation projects. The committee has a budget of $50k per year. Up to $20k can be granted to any member whose innovation project shows promise and meets criteria set by the committee. Applications should be accompanied by a sound business-plan and marketing-plan. Products should be focused on export markets.

An Example of an Innovative Potato Product:


Potato Starch

Starch is the second-most common biological material on this planet, after cellulose, and provides about 75% of the energy consumed by human beings.

A wide variety of plants store starch in the form of small grains, and deposit these in their seeds, tubers and roots where this starch serves as an energy-reserve.

Industry recovers starch from only a few of them, mainly the potato, tapioca, maize and wheat. Most potato starch is produced in Europe from special varieties of “starch potatoes” that contain 17–20% starch, compared to normal edible potatoes that contain about 10% starch.


Recovering potato starch on an industrial scale is a relatively simple process:

  1. Wash and grate the potatoes.
  2. Starch is then extracted from the cells by means of centrisieves resulting in pulp and starch milk.
  3. Starch milk then undergoes repeated washings in hydrocyclones or separators. This removes the last traces of the cell residues, achieving a very high level of purity.
  4. A rotary vacuum filter dewaters the starch milk, which now contains about 40% moisture.
  5. Following the dewatering, a flash dryer dries the starch, and the water content is reduced to 20%.


Potato starch is currently used by the food processing industry as a general thickener, binder, texturizer, anti-caking or gelling agent. It also shows up in finished products such as snack foods, processed meats, baked goods, noodles, shredded cheese, sauces, gravies and soups, as well as in yeast filtration.


It is also used in the:

  • textile industry to finishing fabrics and starch fabrics
  • pharmaceutical industry to produce antibiotics and as a component of disintegrants
  • chemical industry to produce glues · the paper industry
  • production of dextrines, starch hydrolisers, starch syrups, glucose, ethyl alcohol, starch modifiers and starching preparations.


A report was commissioned by Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development in 2012 that explored NZ opportunities potato starch processing. Potato Starch; A future Opportunity for NZ Lynda Fleming July 2012 Report