RE SEARCH The fry’s the limit With hamburgers, chicken, fish, flavoured or covered in ketchup or mayonnaise, fries are enjoyed around the world, but a surprisingly few countries make the product. Will that ever change, asks Cedric Porter, Managing Editor of World Potato Markets. I t is less than 70 years since the first frozen fries were launched onto the US market. Now they make up a global market worth tens of billions of dollars and are eaten in more than 150 countries. But production is still concentrated in a handful of countries. World Potato Markets estimates that 40 million tonnes of potatoes are processed commercially every year, with just three countries accounting for half that production – the USA (11 million tonnes), Belgium (4.5 million tonnes) and the Netherlands (4 million tonnes). There are only a dozen Top ten fastest growing frozen fry markets 2012 2013 Poland Lithuania Philippines Romania Switzerland Indonesia Chile Thailand South Korea Brazil 35834 4557 60211 23175 1567 21474 46704 32193 70152 228521 41886 5099 52267 26935 2306 23790 60576 35341 78846 274622 Source: World Potato Markets and IHS GTA 2014 2015 5793 2016 70475 56616 68008 5368 57462 33978 70974 39330 94128 55622 28413 35156 45010 2251 2905 3824 35655 93969 2017 % change 2012:17 92358 8428 11509 92173 142115 52458 3541 38114 45,621 74780 93488 93988 44949 48658 56239 107991 297177 308014 319691 112394 347618 158 153 136 126 126 112 101 75 60 52 other countries who account for much of the remaining half of output. Given that 90% of the world’s potato production is not made into fries, it would be easy to conclude that there is a lot of scope for other countries to start making them. But the economics of modern potato processing suggest that may not be the case. Plants cost 10 of millions of dollars to build and to justify that investment, processors need to know they can access the potatoes they need at an economic price. Yield challenge Most processors work to the rule that they need a pool of farmers who can regularly grow 40 tonnes of potatoes. To supply a modern processing plant with an output of 300,000 tonnes of product a year, there is a need for access to at least 15,000 hectares of land to grow potatoes a year. Most growers will want to grow potatoes on a rotation of one year in five. Potato World 2018 • number 1 37 Pagina 36

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