Armed with a new marketing campaign and more modern technology, the potato sector hopes to see a substantial increase in exports. Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and transformation association, pointed out on Tuesday that chips need to make people think of Belgium even more, and that options for technological growth must be optimally implemented.
In the past 25 years, potato production has gone from a local and traditional industry aimed at consumption to a leading world market position in the export of frozen potatoes. 3.8 million tons of potatoes were turned into chips, crisps, mash or flakes in Belgium in 2014. This development was made possible by the family structure of producers, but also by soil fertility and new logistical options.
To promote Belgian chips, Icon ad agency created “James Bint”, a cross between James Bond and the popular “Bintje” potato variety. “Licence to Fry” saw Bint included in the Belgian pavilion at the international exhibition in Milan, and he is set to take part in the potato convention in Beijing in July,
during which Chinese leaders will be recommending potatoes as a healthy staple. “This will open up great export options for our producers. We will meet that demand with a strategy of sustainable growth,” explains Romain Cools, general secretary of Belgapom.
The sector has great expectations with “Bintje plus”, a genetically modified variety which can keep pesticide use to a minimum. “We hope our conversations with all the participants are productive,” highlights Romain Cools. Ipot, a project aiming to assess crop progress via satellite, will allow producers to obtain better yields.