We have eaten fewer French fries because of corona, and this has hit many in the potato industry. Many in the potato industry are feeling the pinch now that the local cafés and restaurants have closed. Because then, fewer French fries are sold.
It puts a lot of financial pressure on many potato growers when we do not eat as many French fries, says Carl Heiselberg, who is chairman of the trade association Danish Potatoes. "I stand to lose 400,000 kroner every year – for the next two years. It is because of corona. It is hitting really hard. There are companies that cannot handle it."
Carl Heiselberg himself produces potatoes for starch. But when there are too many potatoes in the market, it pushes the prices down. "When growers cannot sell their potatoes for French fries, they typically end up in the starch industry, because you cannot store potatoes. There, they are then offered a low, low price. It, therefore, also affects starch production in terms of price," says Carl Heiselberg.
"Eat french fries every day"
It is not only potato growers who notice the diving sales, also companies like Flensted in Ansager, who, among other things, produce French fries. "It means a lot that restaurants are closed", says CEO of Flensted, Lene Rasmussen. "Our potatoes come out of the ground whether there is corona or not. It was a good harvest in 2020, but we did not need so many at all because all our food service sales have been down due to corona."
"At the same time, it is not just a Danish challenge because there are large French fries stocks throughout Europe if we look at the local market with which we compete." Lene Rasmussen therefore also makes a small request to the Danes. According to her, there is only one way for both potato growers and French fries producers to get their business going again. "People should eat French fries every day. That is our call. There are enough of them at least, let me put it this way."
Businesses could close
It is not only in Denmark that sales of French fries have plummeted. It is the same in all the surrounding countries. Last year, according to Carl Heiselberg, there were 2.6 million tonnes of French fries in surplus in Europe. Many will also continue feel the crisis for a longer period of time, he estimates. "There are companies that cannot handle it. Many can manage a year or two. But some of the very large potato growers have potatoes in stock for 3-5 million kroner. But they are completely worthless. It is sad."
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