(July 21) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has stepped on board the low-carb potato bandwagon and will make it part of its annual Fresh From Florida marketing campaign early next year.

Thomas Croom, a marketing specialist with the state agency, said the Florida Legislature recently allocated an additional $2 million for the Fresh From Florida program, and a portion of it will be targeted toward promoting the new spud, which has tentatively been named the Florida SunLite.

The services group will work with SunFresh of Florida Marketing Cooperative Inc., Hastings, a group of six Florida growers, to promote the product.

Croom said the marketing campaign would target retail chains primarily but may not be limited to supermarkets.

“We have restaurant options,” Croom said. “We have value-added options and direct-to-the-consumer options.”

Seed availability will be limited in the first year, and the acreage to be planted has not been determined, said Jim McDowell, director of sales and marketing for SunFresh of Florida.

“We have a pretty good idea about the availability of seed,” McDowell said. “Now we have to determine where and when we will begin planting.”

McDowell said two growers in south Florida will plant in September for a January harvest while other growers in the northeast region of the state will plant for harvests in the spring and summer.

The new potato, which has 30% fewer carbohydrates than the standard russet baking potato, was the result of over five years of research by the by the University of Florida, Florida potato growers and the Dutch seed company HZPC Holland BV, Joure.