Joost Debeuckelaere, Waltson Chips:

"The later the potatoes are planted, the riskier the transition to the new crop"

Belgian potatoes are pricey at present. This affects the fresh as well as processing sector, including Waltson Chips, which specializes in local artisan chips. "Stocks are very limited and might get even more expensive in the coming months. Who knows," says Joost Debeuckelaere of potato wholesaler Agro Debeuckelaere and Waltson Chips.

"It's not the old crop that concerns me, though. We still have a fair amount in storage, so I think we'll manage for now. I, however, expect some issues in the transition to the new crop. The weather's going to stay dark and rainy, so the new potatoes will only be ready for harvest later."

The bad weather means much of the potatoes still need to be planted. "That has to happen; we genuinely can't wait until late June to start planting. Every day you miss in May is a growing day lost. But you depend on the weather. If the weather cooperates and gets warmer, things can also move quickly. The longer we wait, though, the riskier it becomes," Joost explains.

New flavors, machines
Despite these worries, things are going well for Waltson Chips. "People seem to be increasingly appreciating local, artisanal chips' added value over industrial chips."

"For example, besides delis, we're now in independent retailers including Carrefour, Ahold Delhaize, and Spar," Joost continues. That is also why the company has installed new optical sorting machines. "Next week, we'll start trial runs with these. We want to ensure quality and guarantee that only the highest quality chips reach store shelves."

The company sells the chips in Natural, Paprika, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, and Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavors but is also increasingly considering new flavors for the assortment. "We're always looking at additions to the range and are working on a new flavor, which we'll introduce soon," Debeuckelaere says. "We're always trying to collaborate with new companies, too." 

According to him, holidays are always the busiest time for these chips. "However, March and April were also hectic, and we're looking forward to a nice summer. Then the summer bars open, and people like snacking on chips, with a drink, in the sun. But we're still waiting for nice weather so everything can get truly started. That should happen in the next few weeks," Joost concludes.

For more information:
Joost Debeuckelaere
Waltson Chips
Tel: +32 (0) 517 01 625

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