In 1998, the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development sold exclusive exploitation rights for this potato to the German Interseed Potatoes company. In this same year, the German company produced 12,000 kilos of Zorba seed, a figure that has been steadily increasing ever since and over the last two years it has reached 15 million kilos.
Cultivation rights for the Zorba variety have resulted in royalties worth around 350,000 Euros for Neiker-Tecnalia: in the 2007-2008 season alone, they generated 190,000 Euros.
The German company sells Zorba potatoes chopped, frozen, packaged and ready-to-fry and supplies them to a sizeable number of McDonald restaurants throughout Europe, which is evidence of the broad acceptance this variety enjoys across the continent. The volume of seeds sown year after year is proof of Zorba’s plentiful yield and the wise decision on the part of Interseed Potatoes to select it for its crops in Germany.
To date, Neiker-Tecnalia has created 40 different varieties of potato, although Zorba is the only one it has sold exclusively and also the only one that has been fully cultivated abroad. Other varieties from Neiker-Tecnalia currently on sale are: Nagore, Irati, and Leire which are also aimed at industrial frying and the Gorbea potato which is intended for fresh use. The rights to grow these varieties are granted to certain companies who pay a fee for their usage but ownership still belongs to the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development.
Growing high quality, top-grade seed potato to be then supplied to producing companies is one of Neiker-Tecnalia´s specialities. Since 1933, when the Iturrieta Centre for Potato Development was created, this agricultural technical centre has been developing new species adapted to different potato-growing regions throughout the European Union.
The varieties created by Neiker-Tecnalia are destined for fresh consumption and industry: crisps, pre-fried frozen, purees and the potato-starch industry. The advantages of these varieties include better crop yield, cost-reductions and improved resistance to disease.