THIS SPUD'S NO DUD

A potato low in carbohydrates launched early this year is already high in value among Southeastern U.S. retailers.The SunLite potato, which has one-third fewer carbohydrates than regular potatoes, is being carried by all Publix Super Markets stores; Delhaize America's Kash n' Karry, Sweet Bay and Harvey stores; Winn-Dixie Stores; and Target.A spokesman for Kash n' Karry and Sweet Bay, which have been

A potato low in carbohydrates launched early this year is already high in value among Southeastern U.S. retailers.

The SunLite potato, which has one-third fewer carbohydrates than regular potatoes, is being carried by all Publix Super Markets stores; Delhaize America's Kash n' Karry, Sweet Bay and Harvey stores; Winn-Dixie Stores; and Target.

A spokesman for Kash n' Karry and Sweet Bay, which have been selling the potato since late January, said it was "too soon" to determine consumer response. However, the chain started promoting the potatoes with point-of-sale materials in late February.

"Our target market for this year is to cover the Southeast United States," said Jim McDowell, director of sales and marketing director for SunFresh of Florida Marketing Cooperative, a co-op of six Florida growers based in St. Augustine that is growing and marketing the SunLite variety.

The naturally cross-pollinated potatoes were the result of five years of research and the joint efforts of University of Florida Scientists, Florida potato growers and Dutch seed company HZPC.

The premium SunLites are packaged in glossy-labeled, 3-pound bags, selling for $3.50 to $3.99 per bag, compared to about 50 cents a pound for standard russet potatoes.

While "low carb" is the single characteristic garnering the most attention, McDowell hopes that shoppers will buy it regularly for its freshness and taste.

"We are attempting to market a fresh potato and trying to get as close to a 12-month availability as possible," McDowell said, adding that consumers currently get potatoes from Idaho, for example, several months after they're grown. "This literally goes from the farm to the grocery store in a matter of days," McDowell said.