The global French Fries market is being boosted by the upcoming and growing economies. Customers include Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chains like KFC and McDonald’s. The QSR chains play a decisive role in the value chain. The French Fries market is growing strongly in Asia, the Middle East and South America. Sales in the United States and Europe are consolidating. The market is global but production is concentrated in a limited number of regions. Europe and North America are still the main production areas.
The volume of marketed seed potatoes in the French Fries sector has decreased slightly compared to last year. The cause being the use of Farm Saved Seed, which is quite common in a low priced ware potato year like 2014. With our varieties such as Innovator and Ivory Russet, HZPC is focusing specifically on the QSR. We will place multipurpose varieties like Challenger alongside the French Fries sector, even within HZPC’s Retail Fresh sector for supermarket chains.
In the global French Fries market, Europe and North America are the major exporters. However the European export position has in the past year significantly increased in comparison with the US. The reason is the low European raw material prices for French Fries, as occurred with the surplus harvest of 2014.
The relative exchange rates of the Euro against the US dollar also played a role. Using more Farm Saved Seed had a downward effect on the European seed potato market within the French Fries sector.
The processing capacity in the Netherlands, Belgium, South America and China is growing steadily. China potato processing capacity is expected to double over the next few years. This growth is in line with HZPC’s expectations and allows us to achieve a growth target of 4 percent per year.
HZPC’s French Fries Processing sector has a number of strong varieties in its starting line-up. Innovator plays an important role in the global growth of this sector. This HZPC variety was even showcased in the last campaign by McDonald Netherlands as 'the rough diamond from which refined French Fries are cut'.
The introduction of the white-fleshed variety Ivory Russet in the QSR segment has gone well. This variety has been successful on a number of continents and is therefore a valuable addition to the variety portfolio for this sector. For the French Fries market in Europe HZPC sees potential in the introduction of new, robust varieties with low maintenance in terms of fertilisation and pest control, and a high yield. HZPC hopes to develop this market further with varieties such as Challenger. The breeders in our French Fries sector team are working on varieties that perform well under difficult conditions, and have the genetics necessary to meet the future tastes and preferences of the processor, QSR and consumers.
With sector teams in the countries, we invest heavily in the education and supervision of growers and manufacturers. Growers who know their varieties better, achieve very good harvest results in practice. Both with the introduction of a new variety and with existing varieties, tailored advice contributes significantly to strong results. In this way, our new varieties can deliver good quality and quantity yields. Our educational and information exchange meetings benefit both the grower and the French Fries manufacturer for whom the potato forms the economic basis of their finished product. In addition, HZPC’s French Fries Processing Sector increasingly focuses on the marketing of the potato, the agronomic and agricultural aspects, and sustainable growing methods.
Jelle Bos, Retail Fresh Sales Manager
“The Challenger variety is impossible to pigeonhole and excels in terms of versatility. Of course, its greatest strength is what it was primarily developed for: it is an excellent French Fries potato with a high percentage of dry matter, a nice long tuber and a high yield. But this variety is also sold freshly packaged to consumers in many European supermarkets. In Belgium, France and Portugal, where people make a lot of French Fries from fresh potatoes at home, Challenger is for many the first choice. A fact the supermarkets are happy to exploit. But boiled, too, Challenger is a mealy, flavoursome potato, and in a delicious stamppot (traditional Dutch dry stew) it is unsurpassed, something for which it is highly valued not only in the Netherlands but also in Germany. For ware growers, packers and exporters this versatility makes the Challenger a variety with a wide range of possibilities.”