TRADE AND MARKET I NG Table potatoes dominate the Chilean market able to store 3,000 tons from then onwards. The storage facility was set up in an existing building of a cooperative where seed potatoes were stored. By gradually dismantling the small cells and installing larger ones, he can now store more than 12,000 tons of potatoes in bulk. Last year, he built a completely new 3,000 ton box storage facility for the storage of seed potatoes. He also invested in the purchase of a 4-row Grimme Tectron harvester in that year. A big change in 22 years, that’s what he feels. Vargas grows a total of 450 hectares of potatoes, of which he harvests an average of 50 tons of net product. The largest area on his farm is planted with the FL 1867 PepsiCo variety. The entrepreneur also looks after his own seed potato cultivation. Every year, he starts with growing new mini tubers and uses the third generation as user seed. He wants to take advantage of every opportunity in the market to expand. That’s why he produces too many seed potatoes every year. This enables him to respond better to the sometimes widely-fluctuating demand from PepsiCo. If the demand is low, he sells the unused seed to other Chilean growers. Vargas is currently researching the export market for seed potatoes of crisps varieties. He’s also looking at possibilities for an extra crop of seed potatoes for the international table potato market. In order to further develop this market, he’s looking for cooperation with trading companies. Widening his sales area is important to him, because he points out that the market for crisps has been stable for years. ‘There’s currently no growth and we find that frustrating. If you want to grow as a company right now, it’s only possible by forcing out other growers. This means that the market is extremely competitive and you have to deliver good quality in order to stay in business. We’ve also noticed that our customer, PepsiCo, is looking for a small group of larger growers who can supply high-quality base material for their factory. At the moment, they’re working in Chile with eight regular growers who, together, supply more than 50,000 tons of potatoes. Of that amount, 80 percent is cultivated in the Felipe Henríquez (l), and Sake Porte advise growers such as Andrés Vargas Teuber and Alvaro García Fernández (r). south. At our farm around Purranque, we grow 450 hectares of which we store more than 12,000 tons of product‘, Vargas outlines the size of his company. Twenty percent more dry matter His director Alvaro García Fernández has previously worked as an agronomist at PepsiCo. To further improve the quality, he works with technical products such as the hotbox in order to know exactly what quality he’s delivering to the factory. This is important, because the tubers in Chile quickly reach a high underwater weight. If a variety in America already scores 20 percent dry matter, then the tubers here can easily reach a dry matter content of 25 percent. This makes them highly susceptible to blue discolouration. ‘This year, we’ll also be experimenting with determining the sugar content in the tubers. We’re taking samples during the growing and storage periods to monitor the content. This means we can make a good decision about when to deliver a lot to the factory. That’s important, because the potatoes still have to be transported 1,000 kilometres before they can be fried’, explains García. In addition to growing the potatoes, a grower is also responsible for their transport to the factory. Growers in the south supply the potatoes straight from the field in March, after which they supply them from storage until the beginning of November. During the months of November, December and January, the potatoes come from the early-growing area of La Serena, where growers harvest and deliver them directly. In December, harvesting starts again in the central region, after which the south returns to the market in March. The factory has to be flexible because, in this period of ex farm delivery rain can be a real problem. ‘That’s why we want to try to extend the storage period so that we can also be on the market during this period’, García is planning ahead. ● Jaap Delleman Potato World 2018 • number 1 21 Pagina 20

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