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De Coster is specialised in cutting and peeling potatoes
Belgium: "Peeled baby potatoes increasingly popular"The family company De Coster, Belgium started selling potatoes about 50 years ago. Today the company is specialised in peeling and packaging potatoes, from peeled to chips. "Peeling gradually came in", says Eddy de Coster, owner. Together with his daughter Sofie he runs the business. De Coster was first located in Kalmthout and from '79 in Wuustwezel, which is the current location.
Investing in the newest machinesThe products are marketed under the brand Decofrit and delivered to the customers daily by cooling truck. "Since last year we also supply peeled baby potatoes, and it's been going very well so far. In 2002 we built an entirely new cooled pilot. We also keep investing in the newest machines for peeling and packaging peeled and chip-cut potatoes. The chips are cut with a water cutting system and using a camera sorter, chips that aren't up to standard are removed."
Quality and hygiene is very important for De Coster. "We are HACCP-certified and that is checked here twice a year by audit."
"Fontane is used more and more"
Important buyers for De Coster are mainly catering and fruit and vegetable wholesalers. Schools and institutions also buy the cut products. "We supply an area of 40 to 50 km around Wuustwezel. We also have a number of customers in South-Holland." De Coster mainly uses the variety Bintje and Agrias. "Over the last few years Fontane has been used more and more often in the company." Eddy isn't always pleased with the Bintje. "Especially at the end of the season it gets more difficult and the quality decreases. Then it's sometimes better to use Fontane. They are nicer and have more yellow flesh. But this variety doesn't beat the taste of Bintje."
According to Eddy the sector has changed a lot compared to how it used to be. "Customers generally demand more. It's very important to keep supplying service and quality. I think it's getting harder for everyone. The whole market is fighting for the same customers and the additional costs are getting higher and higher."
Future: possible combination with cut vegetablesDe Coster has grown fast in the past few years, but he doesn't think this rate will continue. "Of course, it depends what will happen, but the market is pretty saturated. We can also see many small companies disappearing and being taken over by bigger ones. It's hard to see what will happen, but we'll keep working hard for it. We might combine peeled potatoes and cut vegetable in the future."
For more information:
De Coster BVBA
Kalmthoutsesteenweg, 259 - 2990
Wuustwezel - België
Tel: 0032 3 666 91 85
Fax: 0032 3 666 36 68
Publication date: 6/5/2012
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