A special centre has been set up by potato packer Solanum to strengthen relations with growers and retailers. The company, one of the UK's largest potato packers and distributors, annually handling more than 220,000 tonnes valued at #60m, has established a centre of excellence. The move also expands its research and development alliances with seed breeders and crop protection specialists, said Jason Burgess, supply chain director. Solanum launched a waxy, early salad variety, Elizabeth, to coincide with the Queen's Jubilee celebrations and there are more in the pipeline. The programme will be overseen by Simon Bowen, who will be its group agronomy manager and has a long history in the industry including Anglia Produce, Greenvale and the Abbey Group. Stuart Nelson, who has had experience in the food and drink sectors, has been appointed customer marketing director. He said the potato industry has been too inward looking and must concentrate more on meeting consumer demands. {{MARKET EDGE }}