On October 30th, Farm Frites Poland celebrated their 25th anniversary. The company’s fries are exported to 11 European countries and their main customer is McDonalds. In 1993, the two Dutch companies Farm Frites and Aviko decided to enter the Polish market. In 1994 the potato processing company started production. At that moment, the potato varieties in Poland weren't suitable for processing, so on a former state farm, Farm Frites Poland started growing suitable potato varieties on about 3.500 ha. Now Farm Frites Poland is contracting about another 4.000 ha, the main variety being Innovator.
Potato sector Poland
Poland is the third potato producing country of the European Union, after Germany and France with an estimated production of approximately 7,5 million tons in 2018. The production is declining due to the drought; this year it might even be necessary for Poland to import potatoes for the processing industry.
The potato growing area is approximately 300.000 ha, but 38% of that acreage consists of areas smaller than 1 ha and 39% is between 1 and 10 ha. In total approximately 400.000 farms are present in Poland who grow potatoes but only about 10% is bigger than 1 ha if you look at the number of farms. Production is therefore fragmented and there is lack of irrigation in combination with dry summers.
Another challenge is the relatively low amount of use of certified seeds, which is estimated at 13%. Because of this, the export market for seed potatoes is basically closed since the assumptions from potential importing countries is that diseases are present. Seed potato companies are combining forces to look for ways to increase the amount of certified seeds, for example by promotion of traceability in the retail. The expectation is that in the coming years, the potato growing area will decline but that it will become more professional. This will also depend on the political support for the issue of breeders rights and payment of royalties by the smaller farmers.
Dutch seed potato companies have a market share of 38% in Poland.
Changing consumer market
The consumer market in Poland is changing when it comes to table potatoes. There is increasing demand in higher quality and more packaged potatoes in smaller quantities instead of buying bulk potatoes from a large bag. One of the reasons might be that more Polish people are working abroad in western Europe and are taking over these shopping habits.