For domestic demand but also for foreign markets, new growth rates are recorded each year in Germany, because today's consumers simply love refined products that are easy to prepare. Both at the producer and on the processing level, people are happy about this long-term trend.
The Friweika eG in the heart of the Saxon potato growing region has been one of the most important refiners in Germany for many years. Note that the processed goods sector is increasing annually, in contrast to declining packaged potatoes. "We process our products to dumplings and gratin, among other things. In general, one could say: the more convenient the product, the stronger the growth. This trend goes hand in hand with the growing demand for convenience items," says salesman Thomas Wolf.
At the producer level, too, there are significant growth rates every year, confirms Stephan Hellmich, Managing Director of the producer group Ankum. The sales cooperative also deals with supplying foreign markets, such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, in addition to the domestic market. "Although the export of potatoes for processing outside Europe is a stable market; the big boom is already over. The European potato industry, on the other hand, continues to grow steadily, with new capacities being created every year for potatoes to be supplied. Especially the Fontane variety is now grown more and more by our producers."
The Fontane variety is particularly suitable for processing and is rapidly gaining importance in German cultivation
Parallel to the shortage of food potatoes, there are also clear harvest deficits in the industrial sector, explains Hellmich. "Generally one can say that the early varieties have a better yield than the later varieties, like the majority of industrial potatoes. Thus, the failure of industrial potatoes is between 20-30 percent. "Friweika is also currently noticing the direct consequences of the weak harvest. Wolf: "In a difficult crop year like this year's season -with losses of between 30-50 percent- there are also corresponding price increases for the finished products." Nevertheless, the refiner is looking forward to the upcoming Christmas season, one of the priorities for the season the annual sales. "We are entrusted with the task of ensuring availability, so that at Christmas, everyone has our dumplings on the table.''
Erik Richter of Friweika eG shows the product range at last year's Fruit Logistica
Another topic for the potato sector is the steady rise of sweet potatoes, which are now also on the shelf in processed form. However, Hellmich does not believe in the competitiveness of sweet tubers: "There has already been research on the acrylamide content in sweet potato, an ingredient that develops when heating or baking sugary products. The sweet potato is therefore suitable primarily for fresh consumption.'' At Friweika, they are reluctant about processing sweet potatoes. "Some of our competitors already are following this trend. From our point of view, sweet potatoes account for only a small percentage of the total potato market. In addition, from a botanical point of view the sweet potato is not a potato, something that results in different storage and processing conditions which possibly means large investments."