Consumer NZ claims low-carb potatoes are waste of money

  • 16/03/2024
Consumer NZ probed two varieties of spuds marketed as 'low carb.' Photo credit: Getty Images

Potato brands claiming to have less carbs may not even be healthier than the stock-standard waxy spud variety, a consumer advocacy organisation says. 

Consumer NZ investigative writer Vanessa Pratley probed two varieties of spuds marketed as "low carb", and concluded it was better to save your hard-earned pennies and purchase a waxy spud instead. 

One of the potato brands examined was T&G Gloabl's Lotatoes, which Pratley boiled and fried; mashed; and boiled and baked to taste test. 

"The mash was the most successful preparation. With some butter and salt, it was nearly indistinguishable from your average spud," she wrote. 

But she didn't give the baked and boiled varieties a ringing endorsement. 

"Both the boiled and baked Lotatoes had a slightly watery texture. T&G said Lotatoes had a low dry-matter content, which could explain this. 

"Despite T&G warning Lotatoes might not be so good fried, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. They lacked a bit of crispness, but overall held up well to a deep fry." 

Consumer also found Lotatoes was comparing its carb content to agria and rua spuds on its website, despite saying on the packaging they had 40 percent less carbs than agria. 

In her investigation, Pratley said she asked T&G to clarify those claims. 

T&G told Consumer because the rua potatoes would shortly "no longer be readily available in New Zealand, we have ceased using it as part of our comparison and have recently removed the reference to the variety on our packaging". 

"Following our query, it removed reference to the Rua Variety from its website," Pratley wrote. 

"When we asked to see the data the agria claim was based on, T&G refused, citing commercial sensitivities." 

She said another example analysed was Gropak's Sunlite low-carb potatoes. 

"Gropak claims its low-carb Sunlite potatoes contain 11.1g of carbohydrates per 100g serving, which it says is at least 25 percent less than the common NZ rua potato per serving.  

"We asked if it could substantiate that claim, but Gropak just repeated the information on its website: 'This claim is a Food Standards Australia/New Zealand Guideline, that when making a low-carb claim - all potatoes must be at least 25 percent less carbs than the NZ rua potato.'" 

Overall, she said people don't have to buy "low carb" marketed spuds to lessen intake. Instead, a waxy potato would suffice. 

"Their carbohydrate content is likely pretty similar to that of a 'low-carb' potato - in some cases, even lower than that claimed for a low-carb potato. 

"These potatoes are also likely to be cheaper than a speciality low-carb variety. 

"If you prefer a high-starch, floury agria over waxy potatoes, the Lotatoes and Sunlite products have lower carbs in comparison." 

But Fearless Nutrition dietitian Sylvia North said there was little difference between a low-carb potato an agria spud. 

"People who want to keep a larger portion of potato on their plate for less carbs may like them," she told Consumer. 

Otherwise, North said, people could simply eat lower portions of normal potatoes.