Jersey new potatoes are set for a facelift this season. The Jersey Potato Export Marketing Board (JPEMB) has officially taken over from the island's States Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and is making the relaunch of the crop a priority. The organisation comprises six growers, including chairman John Le Maistre; vice-chairman Mick Cotillard; chief executive Stuart Smith; senior executive Martyn Anderson; and three independent Jersey businessmen. It also replaces the Jersey Growers Association, and hopes to benefit other edible horticulture sectors. JPEMB represents some 90 new potato growers who annually produce about 40,000 tonnes of Jersey Royals, but it will not be involved in selling the crop. This will remain in the hands of the island's four packer/shippers: JPMO (which will sell about two-thirds); Top Produce; Farm Fresh; and Woodside Produce. These will have representation, alongside transport, insurance and seed interests, through a stakeholders committee to be set up shortly. Smith said the JPEMB would encourage increased collaboration right up the retail point of sale, creating a smoother and more effective operation for all. Its other aims include improving flavour, crop husbandry, and reassessing ways to add value to out-graded potatoes. He accepts that while Jersey Royals enjoy a 122-year reputation, the crop has come under pressure from imports and UK early potatoes. He believes that as well as brand enhancement, Jerseys could benefit from the "appellation" recognition from the European Community. He also sees opportunities in other food sectors. Latest news points to acreage being slightly lighter than last season, although planting is still continuing. Some glasshouse-raised Royals are being harvested, but the main crop is not due until late March, early April. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}