(March 25) DENVER — Americans often think they know it all, but the U.S. Potato Board knows better.

“Great Britain is doing a far better job than we are today of growing potatoes that appeal to consumers, and they’re doing a much better job of packaging those potatoes and presenting them at retail to connect with consumers,” said Tim O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of the board.

O’Connor was a guest at a conference of the British Potato Council, Oxford, England, in December, and he invited two of his hosts to speak to the U.S. group at its annual meeting March 13-16.

British growers sell prepared chilled potatoes, as well as much of their fresh product, in small consumer packs, said John Chinn, partner in Correy Farms, Herefordshire, England. Some of the fresh potatoes are pre-washed and ready to boil or microwave.

Chinn and fellow guest speaker David Walker, president of the British council, displayed packaging for a number of the products at the meeting.

“People are willing to pay for convenience,” Walker said.

Speaking of a wrapped tray containing four baking potatoes, “It’s just a bit more convenient to pick up and take home,” Chinn said. And the potatoes bring a higher retail price packaged that way, he said.

The British also grow a small potato they call baby new that is surface-grown and defoliated while it is immature.

British growers pay more attention to the skin condition of their potatoes than Americans do, Chinn said. Their best potatoes are virtually blemish-free.

“In the U.K. during the ’90s it was all about size — economies of scale — but we’re seeing big growers go out of business now because it’s attention to detail, as well as economies of scale, that is really determining who’s going to survive,” Walker said.