Background

The versatile potato

The ever increasing demand from the French fries sector in prosperous countries offsets the slowly reducing consumption of fresh potatoes. Internationally, there are also new trends in the food sector. There is a demand for new applications and a greater choice of products. HZPC is applying itself to these demands.

FRENCH FRIES FACTORY

The consumption of fresh potatoes reduces in Western countries every year. This, however, is easily offset by the growing demand for potatoes to make fries. At the moment, around half of the potatoes on the European market are intended for fresh consumption, while the other half are used by the processing industry. In the United States, a trend-setter in the food sector, the ratio is one third fresh consumption, i.e. ‘retail fresh’, and two-thirds processed product.

This shift is expected to continue within Europe too. There have already been substantial investments in French fries factories in Northern Europe for many years. The export of frozen fries by Belgium, for example – which along with the Netherlands is the largest fries producer on this continent – grows each year by at least 4%.

It is also worth noting that the old variety Bintje is rapidly losing ground in the fries industry and is being pushed aside by new varieties, such as Challenger and Innovator from HZPC.

 

MARKET RESEARCH

Every year, HZPC invests millions of euros in market research, market development and product development. We are currently seeing trends in the United States that are of particular interest. As a business, we try to flag up these developments and capitalise thereupon.

Over the past year, we have commissioned in-depth analyses of the North American Food-service sector. Sales of meals are developing incredibly rapidly. Americans eat outside the home on a very regular basis; ‘on the go’ in the street, in restaurants, while shopping, or in canteens at work. Meal services are booming. Various types of new restaurant are emerging, as is home-ordering of meals via smartphones.

Within this trend, there is a demand for potatoes for specific applications. This includes the fresh cutting and preparation of fries, ‘creamers’ (new potatoes) and potatoes in their skins. The sector must work hard to keep up with changing consumer desires. HZPC sees only opportunities in this context.

 

VARIATION

Consumers in Europe and America, according to the market research, are increasingly looking for enjoyment, flavour, lifestyle, fun and variety. HZPC is therefore working on new concepts with its partners in the chain. We are aiming to engage younger generations in potato consumption and trying to exploit new sales channels.

One of these concepts is our potato product Woksi®, which will soon be brought to market by one of our partners, a large food manufacturer. HZPC expects the new concept to be a major purchaser of its potato varieties. The waxy variety Annabel has precisely the right structure and characteristics.

 

HEALTH

The consumer is also increasingly demanding healthy food. This is a global requirement. Asia is particularly focussing on obesity at the moment. HZPC is therefore investing in potato varieties that are less calorific, with reduced carbohydrate and lower fat levels.

Our Fries4all programme, which is developing crispy fries that are cooked in an air fryer, is at the point of breakthrough. In the coming year, we expect it to be introduced to the major chains of retailers.