TRADE AND MARKET I NG Switzerland hopes for an average harvest around 26,000 tons in the past decade. This means that around 6,000 tons of seed potatoes are needed every year. With over 20 percent of the acreage, the Agria is by far the biggest variety in Switzerland. The Swiss also grow a wide range of specific table potato varieties. What stands out here is that varieties such as Victoria, Markies, Fontane and Innovator are expanding every year to meet the demand of the local Swiss processing industry. Everything is regulated To keep potato growing in Switzerland interesting for the growers, everything here is regulated. Swisspatat, the potato chain’s trade organisation of which growers, trade and industry are members, sets the growers price annually. In November, the Market Committee of the Organisation sets the coming season’s price for each market segment. For firm table potato varieties the price is around 47.50 Swiss francs per 100 kilograms, with differences per variety. The organisation takes a variation margin of approx. 8 euros (CHF 9.10) into account. The varieties for the processing industry are, on average 41.60 francs per 100 kilograms, with a variation margin of approx. 2 francs. In order to meet the growing local demand for organic potatoes, the growers receive 91.50 francs per 100 kilograms for all the table potato varieties, and 76.50 francs with a variation margin of 8 francs for different varieties for the processing industry. At the end of August, the Committee sets the final price for the current season, which is based on the harvests of all the growers. Modern packaging In this closed market, with an annual turnover of over 41 million Swiss francs and 65,000 tons of potatoes, the Terralog company is one of the bigger players. This company has its base in the village of Rüdtligen-Alchenflüh, in the Bern Mittelland region, which is the biggest cropping area in Switzerland. Ernst Arn, former CEO of the Dutch company KWS-Potato, has wielded the sceptre here since 2014. Within a few years, he has firmly established the young company with his knowledge and experience. Terralog was formed in 2010 as a result of a merger between the eighty growers of the Kartoffelzentrale Amt Burgdorf (KAB) Cooperative and the Swiss trading enterprise Geiser agro.com AG in Langenthal. Geiser is active in the fruit and vegetable sector and also supplies products such as sowing seed, crop protection chemicals and fertiliser, and it owns filling stations. The company, which has been in business since 1885, realises an annual turnover of over 130 million Swiss francs. These companies have jointly built an ultra-modern storage and small packaging enterprise along the important Swiss A1 motorway. This branch of the business can store a total of 18,000 tons of potatoes in boxes in a modern storehouse equipped with a ventilation system from the Dutch Tolsma company. The other storehouses are spread at various sites in the growing areas. Because of the small acreages – the average potato acreage is 2.3 hectares – the Swiss growers don’t store their potatoes themselves, but storage has been centralised. The entire logistic chain is based on boxes. Everything is digitalised In the modern building, Terralog not only packages and markets the potatoes of the KAB members, but they also sell all or part of the harvests of a group of 240 growers. Via other traders, the business also processes potatoes of 500 other Swiss growers. All these different parties and quality and origin labels for regional produce lead to a highly complicated logistics process in order to complete the handling effectively. In the storehouse, Terralog uses the Opaccone system that labels each box and enters it into the computer system immediately upon arrival. ‘After taking tare samples and entering them into the system, the results are available for the growers via the intranet system that same day. We no longer use paper’, Arn explains proudly. At one of the modern packaging machines, Arn tells us that the Migros supermarket chain, which has a market share in AGF of over 50 percent, is the biggest in Switzerland. He says that his business supplies 50 percent of the table potatoes to them. Looking at the turnover of consumption potatoes, Terralog sells 37 percent of its turnover as table potatoes and 63 percent as French-fry potatoes. The Swiss eat over 41 kilograms of potatoes per head of population every year. The potatoes are on the lowest shelf. 30 Potato World 2017 • number 3 Pagina 33

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