Apr 22, 2019
Great Lakes Potato Chips developing purple potato chip using MSU’s Blackberry

As eating habits evolve, the potato’s place at the dinner table continues to change.

David Douches, a professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences and director of the university’s Potato Breeding and Genetics Program, has been at the forefront of the potato’s transition as people get more adventurous with their eating habits. Known as “Mr. Potato Prof,” he is MSU’s Corporate Connector of the Year.

Douches helps develop new varieties for Michigan — one of the country’s top potato producers — and the nation with names ranging from Beacon Chipper and Purple Haze to Raspberry and Spartan Splash. Blackberry, a fresh market purple potato, is bringing a splash of color to the snack world.

Photo: Michigan State University

Great Lakes Potato Chips is working out the commercialization of purple potato chips from this potato,” Douches said. “It should be a fun product.”

The wide range of varieties he has developed are becoming more and more relevant. About 15 years ago he noticed a change coming in potato consumption, citing a variety named Jacqueline Lee (named after his daughter), a medium size potato with yellow flesh that didn’t fit the market at the time, he said in a 2014 interview Michigan Radio. Now, it is being marketed nationally and internationally.

“Our Manistee variety is helping the growers and processors by having a quality product throughout the storage season, as well as extending the storage season,” Douches said.

While Douches researches and breeds each new potato, keeping track of the intellectual property associated with it is a whole other facet. That’s where MSU’s Innovation Center comes in.

“The expertise at the Innovation Center allows me to stay on task and continue to advance my activities by managing the IP,” Douches said. “This is very valuable.”

— From Michigan State University. Click here for the rest of the story. 

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