On Friday, Farm Frites sent a letter to its growers saying that some of the production lines for fries will be discontinued. According to Hylke Brunt, secretary of the Association for the potato processing industry (VAVI), the demand for fresh and frozen fries has collapsed significantly over the last week. “Due to the closure of the catering industry, there is much less demand for potato products,” says Hylke. "This sector normally accounts for 80% of our sales and as a result of this disappearance, some producers of fresh and frozen French fries are now deciding to completely or partially stop their lines."
Due to these circumstances, the potato chain suddenly has a mountain of potatoes that they can no longer sell. "It is impossible to get rid of those amounts in the retail market alone," says Hylke.
On the purchasing side, it is mainly the price that has collapsed. “Normally, on the free market, fry potatoes were sold for 15 euro cents, those prices have dropped to 4 cents. It is also practically impossible for the fries producers to process all ware potatoes in the regular process. The VAVI is in consultation with the Branch Organisation for Arable Farming, other organisations in the potato chain and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality about what should be done with the potato stocks that now remain with the growers.” According to the press release by the sector organisation arable farming, this concerns 1 million tons of fry potatoes with a value of 160 to 200 million euros.
Keeping fresh fries in stock makes little sense. The cold stores are now full of frozen chips, which are easier to store. "It is one of the ways to get this crisis under control," explains Hylke. “We are also looking at the possibility of extending the storage season for potatoes by adding more sprout inhibitors and alternative sales channels such as the starch industry or the food bank. But all the alternative sales channels together cannot possibly get rid of the entire stock that is now there. It is difficult to predict exactly what effect this situation will have on the new potato harvest. The only effect we can see is that fewer chip potatoes are currently being planted. "