CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Washed table potatoes share in Spanish supermarkets is growing The Spanish coastal town of Valencia is home to the potato-packaging company Aquilar Patatas. This more than 50-year-old family business, where Vincente Aquilar is in charge and son Robert focuses on the future, is responding to the growing demand for washed table potatoes from the Spanish supermarkets. ‘Whereas 20 years ago only 20 percent of our table potatoes were washed, it has now increased to 90 percent’, says the company’s commercial director Francisco Gascó. A n Aquilar employee rapidly navigates his forklift truck through the spacious reception hall of the Spanish company that employs a total of 45 people. The truck’s fork holds a fully-loaded ‘big bag’ of table potatoes of the Monalisa variety, also known in Spain as Gioconda. ‘All table potatoes we receive here are delivered in the big bags’, says agronomist José Vincente Doria. Within the company he is responsible for the quality of the potatoes. Doria says that Aquilar will further professionalise the intake of the potatoes in the coming months with the installation of a Wevano bunker reception unit from Emmeloord, for emptying the big bags. ‘This will improve the intake of the potatoes, partly because the drop heights will decrease even further’, Gascó says. The new installation was supplied by Manter Iberica, a subsidiary of the Dutch Manter company in Emmen. In addition to weighing and packaging machines, the Spanish subsidiary has been supplying turn-key projects in the local table potato market since 2013. ‘A single point of contact for a total project with service and maintenance is what the Spanish customers want’, responds Albert Llaquerri of Manter Iberica. Washing installation that operates separately From the reception bunker, the potatoes at Aquilar are moved via a fairly steep conveyor belt to the new washing installation from the Dutch company Tummers. The installation is equipped with two washing drums that can operate separately, ‘and together can wash 60 tons of potatoes per hour’, says Hein Kortebos, a representative of the manufacturer from Hoogerheide. After the stone and clod separator, which produces remarkably few clods and stones, the potatoes reach the washing drum. According to Gascó, the potatoes that Aquilar processes at the end of October are lifted by hand and are therefore very clean. This is because a large number of small growers are active in the Valencia region. ‘Many of the growers have less than 1 hectare. The potatoes are harvested by hand and delivered in the big bags. The intake is organised accordingly. Later in the year, when the Spanish stocks run out, we import French potatoes that have been mechanically harvested. The French also deliver these in the big bags. It is important, according to the Spanish commercial director, to remove the stones and clods from these potato lots as quickly as possible. Outside the building, Doria shows the Potato World 2019 • number 2 39 Pagina 38

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