Social Science Department
Working Paper 1982-3
A PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION
Susan V. Poats
INTERNATIONAL POTATO CENTER
Aptdo. 5969 Lima -Peru
The purpose of this Working Paper Series is to encourage debate, exchange of ideas,
and advancement of social science knowledge about production and utilization of
the potato. The views expressed in the papers are those of the authors) and do not
necessarily reflect the official position of the International Potato Center.
Comments are invited.
A PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION*
Susan V. Poats**
Consumer preferences for a certain taste, consistency, or color in a
potato, or even preferences for potatoes from specific production locali-
ties, may prejudice their reactions to new types of potatoes deviating
from traditionally established norms. Two simple taste tests were con-
ducted in Lima, Peru to determine whether tasters could: (1) differenti-
ate between potato varieties grown in a traditional Andean highland area,
and those produced experimentally in a lower, hotter and more humid zone
where potato culture is not practiced, and (2) express preference for one
or the other. Results were a preference for highland potatoes. Subse-
quent interviews with tasters revealed why, and demonstrated the strength
of this preference. Although one potato may be preferred over another,
this does not necessarily mean that the less preferred potato was consid-
ered "poor" in taste or that it cannot be marketed.
La preferencia de los consumidores por un sabor, consistencia, o co-
lor de papa, o aun por la papa producida en lugares especificos, puede
influir sobre sus reacciones ante tipos de papa diferentes de los tradi-
cionales. En Lima, Peru, se llevaron a cabo dos studios simples de de-
gustaci6n para determinar: (1) si los probadores podlan distinguir las
variedades de papa cultivadas en un ambiente traditional andino, de aque-
llas producidas experimentalmenteenun lugar de menoraltitudmis calien-
te y hGmedo donde generalmenteno se cultiva papa, y (2) expresar su pre-
ferencia entire unas y otras. Los resultados mostraron el 100% de prefe-
rencia por las papas andinas. Subsiguientes entrevistas con los probado-
res revelaron el por que y demostraron la fuerza de su preferencia. Aun-
que una variedad de papa puede ser preferida sobre otra, esto no signifi-
ca necesariamente que las menos preferidas tengan mal gusto o no sean co-
* Siert Wiersema, Roy Shaw, Donald Berrios and Jose Luis Rueda, CIP-
Lima, helped design the tests and obtain materials for them. Com-
ments on an earlier draft were appreciated from Roger Rowe, Gregory
Scott, Douglas Horton and Robert Rhoades. I am indebted to nutri-
tionist Hilary Creed de Kanashiro of the Institute of Nutritional In-
vestigation (IIN-Lima), who allowed me to join in the Los Laureles
group in order to learn about urban potato consumption. Finally, the
women of the Los Laureles community must be thanked for their will-
ingness and enthusiasm in cooperating with the experiment. I do,
however, accept sole responsibility for the ideas and conclusions,
presented in this paper.
** Anthropologist, Social Science Department, CIP.
Human taste preferences are among the most difficult aspects of
human behavior to interpret and understand. Taste preferences are
learned, not inherited, along with a set of food traditions, beliefs
and customs, collectively known as food habits. Because food habits
have emotional connotations, they are often particularly resistant to
change. Resentment is a common reaction to attempts to force a change
in food habits. We have all, at some time, rejected a food because of
its taste. Yet another person may have found the taste quite accept-
able. Probably every person has altered voluntarily some aspect of
his or her food habits under the influence of a change in situation
such as a move to another town or country, or a change in purchasing
power. The alteration, however, is usually within a range of accept-
able possibilities, and occurs gradually over a period of time.
Individuals involved in agricultural development are concerned
with supplying a greater amount of food to people at affordable
prices. This food, however, must be affordable and acceptable. New
foods, introduced without consideration of people's food habits, can
be rejected, despite their nutritive qualities, ability to produce in
great quantity or adaptability to new production zones. Some of the
new maize varieties introduced in Central America have been rejected
by farmers for home consumption because they could not be made good
into tortillas, the traditional form in which maize was consumed.
Certain new rice varieties have also been rejected by traditional
Asian rice farmers for their own consumption because they did not
taste or cook as well as traditional varieties. In Kenya red-skinned
potatoes are preferred over improved white-skinned potato varieties.
In the realm of potato investigations at the International Potato
Center (CIP), the acceptability of potato varieties by consumers is an
important research area. This paper, the result of a brief study in
Peru, discusses some aspects of potato taste, preference and accept-
ability. The study is part of a larger research project on potato
consumption in the tropical developing world. The present report
deals specifically with the potential acceptance of potatoes currently
being produced at CIP's research station in San Ramon, and area in the
Peruvian montana, the hot, wet, eastern slopes of the Andes between
400 and 1000 meters elevation. This preliminary investigation of po-
tato consumption preferences can aid current investigations concerning
the adaptation of the potato to new environments. It also indicates
areas for further examination of human consumption behavior in re-
sponse to potential increases or changes in potato production.
The impetus for examining potato taste preferences developed
during a series of informal surveys on potato consumption and production
in the San Ramon area. Two research problems were identified.
1. Several informants stated that potatoes produced on CIP's San
Ramon experiment station and in nearby on-farm trials tasted "bad" and
that people did not like to eat them. Yet, further interviews re-
vealed contradictory opinions attesting to the "eatability" of pota-
toes grown experimentally at San Ramon. Additionally, it was evident
that someone was eating the potatoes produced on the station and in
on-farm trials. How could the reality, extent and importance of a
"bad" or undesirable taste, be measured ? What implications could this
have on the efforts to grow potatoes in other humid tropical areas of
2. Informants had difficulty relating tastes or preferences of pota-
toes when it was necessary to rely on the memory of a taste to answer
questions. The investigation had to come closer to the actual eating
experience for more accurate determination of people's preferences and
Most Peruvians (both rural and urban, it has been claimed) prefer
potatoes produced in the Andean highlands to potatoes produced else-
where, such as the winter crop from irrigated coastal valleys like
Caiete, two hours south of Lima. Although casual empiricism seems to
support this, no one has yet explained why or established that Peru-
vians could really differentiate between potatoes produced in differ-
ent agroecological zones merely by tasting them. As CIP is attempting
to extend the ecological range of potato production, here then was an
opportunity to test for taste and preference differences. Could Peru-
vians really taste a difference and would potatoes grown in a new area
such as San Ramon be acceptable? Where CIP social scientists had been
advocating an on-farm approach for semi-automatic evaluation of inves-
tigations, here was an opportunity to introduce consumer taste prefer-
ences as an element for consideration.
Potato tubers from seven different varieties recently harvested in
San Ramon obtained from CIP agronomists, were to be compared with
tubers of some of the same varieties but produced in the traditional
potato growing zones in the Andean highlands. Two simple taste
tests were used. The first compared two of the same varieties grown
both in the highlands and in San Ramon. The second compared San Ramon
varieties with each other to determine differences and which, if any,
tasted best. Los Laureles, a section of the Lima pueblo joven or
urban shanty town known as Pamplona, was selected as the location for
the taste tests. The participants were women who attend a regular
maternal and infant health clinic (control de niio sano). Potatoes
are a staple food item among this group of low-income families.
III. THE FIRST TASTE TEST APRIL 2, 1980
Fifty tubers, averaging 2-3 inches in diameter, were selected
from the San Ramon harvest of the following varieties: Cuzco, Anita,
Desiree, Rosita, Mariva, Caipiro and Revoluci6n. All had been har-
vested on March 19 at 110 days maturity. These were placed in cold
storage for one week.* For the first taste test, 35 tubers were se-
lected from each of two varieties, Mariva and Revoluci6n, and the re-
mainder were stored at room temperature in the dark along with the
other varieties removed from cold storage.
Three kilos of Mariva, recently harvested in the highlands,were
purchased at a Lima market for comparison with the San Ramon Mariva.
Tubers of the Revoluci6n variety, grown in the highlands, were un-
available, so, on advice of potato vendors in the market, the variety
Yungay was selected as the second variety grown in the highlands. It
was similar in physical features to the San Ramon Revoluci6n.
The four potato samples were identified in the following manner:
Variety Location Produced Identification Letters
Mariva San Ramon MR
Mariva Highlands MS
Revolucion San Ramon RR
Yungay Highlands YS
These were washed and boiled with skins in four separate pots.
Average cooking time was 25 minutes. Water was drained and potatoes
taken to Los Laureles. Elapsed time between cooking and eating was
two hours. Potato tasting took place in two trials.
The first trial compared MR with MS. Ten women were each given
a plastic plate pre-marked into two sections, labelled 1 and 2. A
half or whole potato (depending on size) of each sample was placed on
each section of the plate. Each woman was also given two cards, one
with one star, and the other with two. They were instructed to try
the potatoes and place the card with two stars on the side of the
plate containing the potato they preferred. After making their
* This was not intentional, but occurred due to a misunderstanding.
The potatoes were removed shortly before the test and this fact
probably accounted for the sweet taste reported later. Despite
this accident it was decided to proceed with the tests, as the
participants were already assembled, and this was an ideal
opportunity to promote open discussions about the potatoes while
they were being consumed.
selections, the choice of each woman was recorded on a card, along
with age, place of birth and number of years lived in the locale.
After recording preference, the reasons for this preference were
recorded on the back of each card.
The second trial was conducted in the same manner using RR with
YS. Before beginning either trial, it was explained to the group that
they would be sampling potatoes produced in different parts of Peru to
determine which tasted best. No mention was made of either highlands
or San Ramon. Potatoes had been peeled and cut following cooking to
prevent any visual recognition of place of origin. Following the two
trials, the origins of the potatoes were identified and this lead to a
discussion among the participants about why they had reacted the ways
they did to the four samples.
Table 1 gives the age, birthplace and number of years of resi-
dence in Lima of the women who sampled the potatoes. Average age was
35. Average number of years of residence in Lima was 18. Contrary to
the presumption that all people who live in the pueblos jovenes come
from the highlands the group was representative of most of Peru's re-
gions: north coast, central coast, south coast, central highlands and
Amazonian rainforest. All were from the Lima's lower socioeconomic
strata. In both trials, 100% of the women said the highland potatoes,
MS and YS tasted better than varieties produced in San Ramon. Reasons
for this choice are listed in Tables 2 and 3. Table 4 presents the
results of the nutritional analysis completed on all four potato sam-
ples as compared to standard food composition tables.
It is neither fair nor accurate to state that the above results
prove definitely that potatoes produced in the highlands taste "bet-
ter" than those grown in San Ramon, since several biases were inadver-
tantly included in this test. First, as mentioned earlier, the pota-
toes from San Ramon were placed in cold storage prior to the test.
Because of difficulties in retrieving them from the cold storage, they
were removed only two hours before they had to be cooked. Those tu-
bers purchased in the market were not placed in storage. It is well
known that tubers in cold storage accumulate sugar. This probably
accounted for the "sweet taste" of the Mariva grown in San Ramon which
was not present in the highland Mariva. Additionally, cultural prac-
tices, which influence tuber taste, vary greatly from experiment sta-
tion to commercial producer. Potatoes grown on the experiment station
at San Ramon for experimental purposes are heavily fertilized and heav-
ily treated with pesticides and/or fungicides, which can negatively
influence tuber taste. Such potatoes might not compare favorably with
organically produced tubers of the consumer-oriented farmer. Potatoes
in experiments are also often harvested immature. A commercial grower
may not do so.
Table 1. Age, Birthplace, and Years of Residence in Lima of Partici-
pants in the First and Second Taste Tests.
Years in Lima
+ Also participated in test 2. In addition, another woman, age
35, from Ayacucho also participated in the Second Taste Test.
* Participated in trial 1 only, test A.
** Participated in trial 2 only, test A.
- 7 -
Table 2. Results of Trial 1, First Taste Test.
Informant Mariva Mariva
N (San Ramon) (Sierra)
"it has an aftertaste,
but I would buy it if
it were cheaper than
"I do not like it"
"not very good"
"good for frying or
making papa a la huan-
caina (a popular Peru-
vian dish utilizing
slices of cold boiled
"also good, good for
"not very good, can be
used for frying, purge
"sweet, good for fry-
ing or making papa re-
llena (stuffed pota-
"has a smell like fer-
"good for making papa a
a la huancaina, papa
rellena, or cau cau
(dish utilizing cow's
stomach and potatoes in
"I like it more"
"floury, dry, good flavor, even
if it were more expensive, I
would buy it before the other
"floury, not very good for
frying, better for stews, has a
"more floury, better for making
"not sweet, floury, can be used
for all types of dishes"
"floury, great taste, can be
used for stews, ajiaco (Peruvian
dish using hot peppers), soup,
or all by itself to eat"
"floury, good for purge, every-
thing, but not good for frying,
"more floury, more tasty"
"better taste, floury, good for
soup, or just like this (boiled)
no more, or in sancochado (a soup
with beef, potatoes, carrots)"
* The term harinosa or "floury" is the most frequent adjective used
in Peru to describe the consistency of potatoes. The more "floury"
a potato, the better it is, though "less floury" potatoes are used
for certain preparations requiring a more waxy consistency.
Table 3. Results of Trial 2, First Taste Test.
Informant Revoluci6n Yungay
N (San Ram6n) (Highlands)
"slightly acid, leaves an
aftertaste in the mouth"
"more or less"
"loose, seems like it has
water, like watery pota-
toes, sweet taste"
"does not have any taste,
"very watery, useful only
''has different taste, very
"slightly sweet, has a
little odor, rooty, better
for frying or pure"
"watery, good for frying"
"watery, rooty, tastes
like papa criolla (pota-
toes produced on coast)
those from the highlands
are better, one can tell
by the taste of these and
the smell of fertilizers"
"more floury, better"
"drier, smooth, not very
floury, a bit gummy"
"more floury, I always
like floury potatoes,
"more floury, has a nice
"floury, great taste,
better to eat plain or
"not sweet, better taste"
"has a great taste"
"more floury, the land
itself gives it a good
Table 4. Nutritional Analysis of the Four Potato Samples Tested Compared With Values From
Standard Peruvian and USA Food Composition Tables.
Variety Mariva Mariva Revoluci6n Yungay Potato Potato
(Highland) (San Ramon) (San Ramon) (Highland) (Collazos)l (USDA)2
(Calculated for 100 gr. fresh weight, raw)
Water % 72.0 80.4 83.0 76.4 74.5 79.8
Protein gr. 2.3 1.8 1.8 2.5 2.1 2.1
Fat 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Fiber gr. 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.1 0.5
Ash gr. 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.2 0.6 0.9
Nifex3 24.1 16.3 13.6 19.3 22.6 16.6
Dry Matter % 28.1 19.6 17.1 23.6 25.5 20.2
Collazos Ch., Carlos et. al. La Composici6n de los
lud, Lima, Peru, 1974.
Alimentos Peruanos, Ministerio de Sa-
2 USDA Handbook N8. Composition of Foods. Washington, D.C., 1963.
3 Nifex is the carbohydrate material, in grams, calculated by substracting from total dry
matter, the fat fiber, protein and ash.
Another factor influencing the taste of the potatoes is that CIP
scientists are still working to produce varieties adapted to growing
conditions of San Ramon. Although promising clones have been selected,
these are not yet available in quantities sufficient for conducting a
tasting test. Therefore, the varieties used in the test were ones nor-
mally grown either in the highlands or on the coast during the cool
season, which are currently being used in agronomic trials at San Ram6n.
It is possible that potato varieties adapted to San Ram6n conditions
could also taste better than ill-adapted varieties.
However, despite these biases, the taste trials stimulated an in-
sightful discussion afterwards among participants, concerning their
reasons for reacting the way they did to the samples and about potato
preferences in general. Their comments are summarized below.
a. The most important observation made was that the potatoes from
San Ramon did not taste "bad," nor were they unacceptable for consump-
tion (every single scrap of potato was consumed). They simply tasted
different or not as good as highland potatoes. It is very interesting
that the potatoes which tasted best, the two highland samples, were al-
so those with the better nutritional quality. The highland Mariva had
8.5% more dry matter and 0.5 grs. more protein than the Mariva grown in
San Ramon. The highland Yungay had 6.5% more dry matter and 0.7 grs.
more protein than the Revolucion produced in San Ramon. This would seem
to indicate that for these participants, a good-tasting potato, a more
"floury" potato, is also one that is nutritionally superior.
b. The "ideal" type of potato for these Peruvian consumers is
high in dry matter content, giving it its "floury" taste. This taste is
sought out in potatoes and those which come nearest to the "ideal" type
of "floury" taste the best. However, along with this "ideal" type is a
recognition that certain potatoes should be prepared in certain ways.
For boiling, as was done in the experiment, the preferred potato is one
that is "floury." For frying, however, a less "floury," moreaguachenta
or "watery" potato is desired since they normally absorbmore oil. These
same "watery" potatoes are not usually prepared by boiling. The women's
comments support this, since they indicated that the SanRamon potato was
more appropriate for frying, or even pure than for boiling to eat alone.
It seems likely that potato preference according to taste is greatly in-
fluenced by the appropriate cooking technique.*
* It is significant to note from the nutritional analysis that the
values for the highland samples correspond closely to those of Co-
llazos et.al. for the average Peruvian white potato, while the San
Ram6n Mariva values are close to those for the average USA white
potato. In other words, while San Ram6n experimental potatoes do
not conform to the nutritional and taste standards of Peruvian
highland grown potatoes, which form the "ideal" for many Peruvian
consumers, they could be very suitable for areas where consumers do
not have a highland potato for comparison and are used to pota-
toes with a more watery or waxy consistency with a nutritional va-
lue similar to that of USA potaotes.
- 11 -
c. Although the comments regarding the two highland samples, MS
and YS, were quite similar, the comments regarding the two varieties
from San Ramon were dissimilar. None of the women mentioned that
Mariva was watery, but rather the general comment was that it was a
bit sweeter than the highland Mariva, and that it did not taste as
good. Most women pointed out that boiling it was not the best way to
prepare it and that other means should have been employed. But for
the Revoluci6n, six of the participants stated that the potato sample
was "watery." Two further mentioned that the Revolucion was raizudo
or rootyy," a comment not elicited by anyone in the first trial. This
seems to indicate that perhaps different varieties respond differently
to the environmental conditions of San Ramon and that in terms of
human preference some varieties are going to be more acceptable for
consumption than others.
d. A few of the women noted a smell in the San Ramon potatoes.
When questioned further about this, the explanation was that the smell
comes from too much quimicos or fertilizers and pesticides used in
potato production. Such potatoes with similar smells come from the
highlands also, the women noted, since quimicos are often utilized
abundantly there as well. One woman made an interesting comment with
which the rest of the women agreed. She stated that "San Ramon pota-
toes taste like those potatoes we call papa criolla, grown further
south on the coast, in a place called Canete." Such potatoes were
recognized by the group as also being inferior in taste to the pota-
toes produced in the highlands, however, the potatoes from Cafete are
readily consumed by the populations of Lima and elsewhere, particular-
ly when highland varieties are scarce or expensive.
e. Many women noted that the skins of the uncooked San Ramon
samples were thin and in many samples peeling off. This indicated to
the women that the potato had been harvested too early, and that they
would not store well in their houses. Women shop for potatoes that
have little or no damage to the skin so that they will run less risk
of loosing potatoes due to spoilage before they can be consumed.
These women stated that they simply cannot afford to lose potatoes
which have gone bad. For this reason the women do their marketing
several times a week, in small amounts, to reduce storage losses in
f. One of the women participating in the trials, sells potatoes
and other tubers and vegetables in the market nearest Los Laureles at
"Immature skin" does affect storability, but in terms of weeks,
not days which is usually the length of time potatoes are stored
in Los Laureles homes. It is interesting, however, that the
women associated immature skin with potatoes that could
potentially go bad and consider this a negative factor in terms
of potato selection in the market.
- 12 -
Ciudad de Dios. She said that because of the combination of
characteristics: taste, wateriness, and skin quality, she would have
to sell the potatoes from San Ramon as papa segunda or "second class
potatoes," and thus at a lower price. How low? Perhaps as much as 20
soles cheaper than the best (white) potatoes from the highlands.*
Would they still sell? Yes she believed so, but because of the skin,
they would have to sell quickly or else the vendor might incur a
loss.** To other women in the group, I posed the following question:
"If MR and MS were both on sale at the market for the same price,
which one would you buy?" The answer was unanimous for the MS. How-
ever, when I asked the following question: "If the MR were 20 soles
less expensive than the MS, which would you buy," All but one women
responded that they would buy the MR, because they must always be
aware of the need to purchase the most food possible on the least
amount of money. If potatoes can be obtained at a lower cost, more
money will be available for other items, among which might be addi-
tional foods. It appears that preference is the overriding factor
determining purchase when price differences are minimal, but when
price differences are great, then the lesser preferred but cheaper
item may be purchased. There seems to be a threshold, though, where the
taste of an item may be so bad that no matter what the price, it will
not be purchased.
g. On the whole, the group agreed that although the San Ramon
samples tasted different, or not as good, they were still acceptable
as a foodstuff, and if they could be produced at a price that would be
cheap enough to cause preferences to be put aside in favor of econom-
ics, then they would surely consume them. To the people of the pue-
blos j6venes a cheaper potato, particularly in times of seasonal scar-
city and soaring prices, would be a most welcome addition to the
IV. THE SECOND TASTE TEST APRIL 5
The second taste test was scheduled for a Saturday morning,
market day for the women of Los Laureles. Since many questions had
arisen during the first test about purchasing habits, it was decided
to first visit the market to observe how potatoes are selected for
purchasing, and then conduct the taste test. Six of the original 10
* At the time of the taste test, the price of the best white
potatoes from the highland was 80 soles in the market nearest to
** Potatoes that "go bad" in the market are usually sold at half or
less than normal prices and are purchased as papa picada or papa
malograda. Though often purchased as animal feed, they are also
bought for human consumption particularly by the poorer people.
Such potatoes are also purchased by food vendors in the market,
who use them to make cau cau, a typical dish made of cubed pota-
toes and cow's stomach.
Thirty tubers from each of the following varieties, produced in
San Ramon, were used in the test: Cuzco, Anita, Desiree, Rosita and
Caipiro. These had been stored in a dark, cool place since their re-
moval from cold storage the week before.* Before initiating the test
the six women were accompanied on their walk to the market and ob-
served as they selected and purchased potatoes. We also noted prices
and varieties available that day were noted and discussions about con-
sumer preferences were held with vendors. Following this, the pota-
toes were prepared for the test in the home of one of the women.
Fifteen tubers from each variety were boiled and the rest were
peeled and then fried. Wheareas boiling time averaged about 20-25
minutes, frying the potatoes took at least half an hour and sometimes
longer with a few varieties. These were then sampled by the six wo-
men, an assorted group of children, and myself. After sampling each
variety, the conclusions were discussed as a group. This time, every-
one knew that the varieties were all from San Ramon. The boiled pota-
toes were sampled first and then ranked according to preference. The
procedure was repeated with the fried potatoes. Comments and the dis-
cussion were recorded.
Results of the rankings are in Table 5. Cuzco was the preferred
variety both boiled and fried. Interestingly, the Rosita, deemed the
worst of the boiled potatoes, moved up to second place with frying.
Desiree occupied an unfavorable position in both rankings and it was
generally agreed that this potato tasted "immature." This evaluation
was even more interesting when compared to the comments made
concerning the appearances of the raw potatoes. In an examination of
physical characteristics prior to cooking, Desiree had been selected
as the best due to its larger, more uniform size, and the fact that
its skin seemed the least broken.
Table 5. Potato Rankings
Liked best ...... 1 Cuzco Cuzco
2 Anita Rosita
3 Caipiro Anita
4 Desiree Caipiro
Liked least .....5 Rosita Desiree
This period of time allowed a diminishing of the "sweet taste,"
reported from potatoes previously cooked shortly after removal
from cold storage.
- 14 -
As with the first taste test, it is illuminating not only to dis-
cuss the results from the test itself, but to include comments made in
the discussions during the test and observations made during the mar-
a. The most obvious result from this experiment is the great va-
riety in taste among potatoes produced in San Ramon. Not all varieties
responded the same way to the tropical lowland environment, at least
in terms of taste variables. Some, like the Cuzco, appear to have taste
qualities which make them stand out above the others. It seems that
one cannot, at this point, generalize about the taste of all potatoes
produced in San Ramon.
b. The fact that there is variety in taste among the different
potatoes, to the extent that in the experiment some were acceptable and
others were totally unacceptable, could be the reason behind the vari-
ety of opinions in San Ramon regarding the taste of the potatoes pro-
duced locally. Enrique Grande, head of CIP's San Ramon experiment sta-
tion, believes that variety in the consumer quality of the potatoes
produced at the station accounts for both good and bad comments. Po-
tatoes harvested at the station are given to people who work there and
to members of the local cooperative. By chance, one family may get
potatoes which taste good, while others may receive a collectionof ex-
perimental varieties which are less acceptable in taste.
c. Potato tastes can improve with frying. The Rosita moved from
fifth place to second place in preference when fried. But frying adds
to the cost of the prepared food since the oil is rather expensive for
these people (300 soles/liter). However, frying is an easy method to
add a significant quantity of calories to potatoes.* A question for
further study would be whether it is more economical to fry potatoes to
increase their energy value or to purchase high energy foods with the
money needed to improve the potatoes.
d. The tastes of different potatoes (and the origins of the po-
tatoes they like the best) are well-known among pueblo joven residents
in Lima, and these preferences account for an important portion of the
* .A nutritional comparison of boiled versus fried potatoes is given
Potato Preparation Calories Total Protein (grams)
100 grams boiled potatoes 76 2.1
100 grams fried potatoes
(from raw) 268 3.6
Source: Church and Church Food Values of Portions Commonly Used.
1976, p. 83.
- 15 -
decision-making when buying potatoes. The exercise in going to the
market with the women before actually conducting these taste tests dem-
onstrated this. Potatoes of at least fifteen varieties were on sale
that morning with prices ranging from 40 soles for papa tercera (small
white potatoes less than 5 cm. in diameter) to 100 soles for some types
of papa huayro and 110 soles for the papa amarilla.* Women did not
automatically buy the cheapest potato on the market, but rather shopped
around for the types of potatoes desired (some of several kinds for
different purposes) and tried to meet their potato preferences in the
most economical way. Taste, consistency, "floury-ness," physicalqual-
ity of the skin, and size were the most important qualities in select-
ing potatoes for purchasing.
e. The trip to the market, as well as the discussion following
the experiment concerning the quantity of potatoes consumed during a
week, raised the possibility of a plausible motive governing, at least
in part, the consumption of potatoes among the residents of Los Laure-
les, who have a long walk to the market via a hot dusty route. They
could take the bus, but this would add 40 soles to the cost of market-
ing. A woman can carry only so much from the market at a time, and po-
tatoes are heavy, for the amount of food involved. Other food items
such as rice or noodles represent more food per volume weight as
brought from the market. It appears that roughly the same amount of
potatoes are purchased per week, regardless of the total numberof per-
sons in the family. It could be that a limiting factor is the weight
of the potatoes and the amount that a woman can carry per week. This
could also be true for women in other locations as well.
V. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The results and discussions presented above support the following
1. When compared with highland potatoes, San Ramon potatoes always
ranked second place. But this does not mean that potatoes from San Ra-
mon are "bad." They taste different. An analogous example would be
the difference in taste between steak and hamburger. Steak tastes bet-
ter than hamburger to most people, but more hamburger is still consumed
largely because it is cheaper. Hamburger, like San Ramon potatoes,
is not as good as steak, but this does not mean that it tastes "bad."
2. Not all potatoes produced in San Ramon taste the same. Partici-
pants noted distinct differences between the varieties tested. It is
possible that in the future, varieties will be found which produce very
* Papa huayro refers to native Andean varieties with purplish skins
and creamy flesh. Papa amarilla also designates native Andean va-
rieties but these are smaller, with deep-set eyes and bright yel-
- 16 -
acceptable potatoes for both local consumption and export to Lima. How-
ever, as these tests show, it is important to evaluate the experimental
materials not only for resistance to disease,production, size and shape,
but also in terms of the acceptability of the taste and consistency.
3. There seems to be an "ideal" type of potato for the Lima popula-
tion; one with the optimum "flouriness" in terms of taste and consis-
tency. All other varieties, both existing and potential, are measured
against the quality and acceptability of this ideal type. New vari-
eties which proximate this "ideal" type will have a far greater chance
for popularity among consumers and therefore among growers. Itwouldbe
wise to incorporate evaluations of any new varieties against the vari-
ety(ies) deemed "ideal" by the intended consumers, not only here in Pe-
ru but elsewhere as well. Though this area has not been fully explored
yet, it is quite likely that strong preferences for certain varieties
or types of varieties also exist in other developing countries as well,
even where the potato is a relatively new introduction. This is an area
worthy of further research.
4. Potato preference is an important part of the decision-making pro-
cess in buying potatoes. Consumers shop for potatoes that taste good
within the limits of their budgets. They will buy different potatoes
for different preparations. Potatoes of many different tastes and sizes
are sold in the Lima markets with prices conforming to the quality of
each. It seems probable that for the right price, potatoes such as
those from San Ramon could be marketed, particularly if the price were
considerably lower than that of other potatoes.
5. Preparation methods modify the taste of potatoes and make themmore
acceptable for consumption as well as improving their nutritional qual-
ity in some cases.
6. Potatoes produced in San Ramon may be similar in taste to papa crio-
lla, the coastal potatoes produced during the cool season, which are
commonly consumed in Lima when supplies from highlands run out or become
too expensive. It would be interesting to compare San Ramonproduced po-
tatoes with coastal potatoes in a future experiment.
7. The weight of raw potatoes may be a limiting factor in the decision
to purchase potatoes, thus limiting the total consumption of potatoes
per family, when they must be carried a great distance from the market
to the household.
8. The results in Table 4 concerning the nutritional values of potato
samples in the first taste tests showed that there was a 10% increase
in water content of potatoes produced in San Ramon and a decrease in to-
tal protein and calorie content per 100 grams fresh weight. Though this
is significant nutritionally, it must also be evaluated in light of the
- 17 -
potential benefit of being able to raise two to three crops of potatoes
per year in those areas with climates and growing conditions similar to
9. An important consideration of both sets of taste tests is that the
tubers utilized were from existing Peruvian and European varieties. They
were not developed specifically for the production constraints of humid
tropical areas such as encountered in San Ramon, and were being utilized
to test for favorable agronomic techniques. CIP is currently working
to develop materials which will produce well under these conditions, but
at the time of these tests, they were not available in sufficient quan-
tities to be included. Further tests are planned for 1982 when enough
experimental materials will be available.
As a final note, it is necessary to reemphasize that acceptance is
an important part of new food development. It has been shown here that
people can readily determine differences in potato variety tastes, and
that varieties can change in flavor and nutritional quality when the
production zone is changed. New potato varieties destined for develop-
ing countries, or being selected by scientists in developing country ag-
ricultural programs,should be evaluated for their acceptability to the
potential consumers. Any new potatoes must be within a range of accept-
ability, for their price, if they are to be consumed in any great quan-
- 18 -
INTERNATIONAL POTATO CENTER (CIP)
The International Potato Center (CIP) is a non-profit, autonomous scientific institu-
tion, established by means of an agreement with the Government of Peru for the
purpose of developing and disseminating knowledge for greater use of the potato as
a basic food. International funding sources for technical assistance in agriculture are
financing the Center.
s :- ca: c- A.as :-ocessec anc D -'ec
S "a -; are Co- Ionicar o's -eca r-e--
--a- saE1 ;Ota-s Certer, ima. Pe -. 3c-ooe- 1198S
Copies prirted: 800