At the end of last year, Joost Debeuckelaere began producing his own chips. He is from Agro Debeuckelaere Staden, a Belgian potato wholesaler. This company has been trading in potatoes since 1935. It has specialized in chip potatoes since 1985. They have, therefore, gained considerable knowledge over the years. That is now being used in the development of a new type of potato chips - artisanal chips.
“I'd been thinking of making my own chips for years. That's finally happened. It was the perfect moment for it. COVID-19 didn't hinder us. The lockdown increased home consumption and the demand for quality products. It was the perfect time to introduce people to our product," begins Joost. Artisanal chips are still a relatively new concept. "We're the sole producer in Flanders."
"We can quickly scale up to producing up to 4,000 bags per day. Consumers receive these chips well. And we hope to grow into a fully-fledged branch of our family business soon." At the moment, you can mainly find Waltson at greengrocers, butchers, and eateries. But, says Joost, he is in talks with supermarkets like Carrefour, Delhaize, and Spar.
Joost's goal is to make chips taste the way they should. "We want our chips to taste predominantly like potatoes. With an added flavor; not the other way around. That's the case with industrial varieties. Our slogan is, therefore, 'Potatoes with a flavor'," he explains.
At present, the range consists of three flavors: Natural, Paprika, and Sea Salt & Black Pepper. These are packaged in 125g bags. However, the company will soon also offer its flavors in smaller 40g bags. And they plan to release a new flavor in the fall. "In our search for a new variety, we asked our social media followers what flavor they'd like. Based on that input, we started developing a new variety. And the family is always willing to do taste tests." What that new flavor will be is still a secret.
Fair price for potato farmers
Potato demand is huge right now. The hospitality industry is open, and consumption is high. "Potato yields aren't bad either. And because of the high demand, grower prices are, fortunately, good. Farmers should always benefit a little. We're still looking for distributors for our artisanal Waltson chips in the Netherlands. We're hoping for a great response from interested parties," Joost colludes.