French fries: India

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2015> 19

Niyati Parikh & Kalpesh Damor, January 29, 2020: The Times of India

AHMEDABAD: Though Gujarat harvests merely 7.42% of the country’s potato production, the state has singularly catapulted India to becoming a french fries exporter from being an importer in just over a decade.

India used to import 6,000 metric tonnes of french fries in 2007. However, the country managed to export around 30,000 metric tonnes (MT) of frozen potatoes in 2019 with fries accounting for 95% of the total exports.

“India started exporting french fries in 2015 with annual exports standing at 5,000 MT. Gujarat has been the key driver of frozen potato products exports from India because the state houses the processing plants of three companies – McCain Foods, Iscon Balaji Foods and HyFun Foods – which produce frozen potato products and export them,” said Haresh Karamchandani, chief executive officer, HyFun Foods.

The three firms, which are leading exporters, are also major suppliers to prominent burger quick serve restaurant (QSR) chains within India.

“Rising global demand, especially from those Asian countries which do not grow potatoes, coupled with concentrated efforts for contract farming has helped India to be an exporter of french fries. Asian countries except India, China and Pakistan do not cultivate potatoes,” Karamchandani said at a seminar during the third Global Potato Conclave 2020, which was inaugurated at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.

“French fries companies are making a lot of money globally. There is a huge demand for exports as well as domestically. As a result, India is adding more processing capacity,” added Sachid Madan, chief executive, Technico Agri Sciences Ltd, an ITC Group company, which is the sole supplier of seeds for Santana variety of potatoes in Gujarat.

India may take lead in frozen potato snacks

This variety is preferred to make french fries. Industry experts peg the global market size for frozen potato products at 15 million metric tonnes, against which the total market size in India is 75,000 metric tonnes as of 2019. Of this, merely 40% is exported.

“India can become a supply hub for potato-based frozen products, which require a processing variety of potato. Because of the favourable agroclimatic condition in Gujarat, we are able to grow these processing varieties here. Hence, majority of processors are based in Gujarat and others who are not based here are sourcing most of their volumes from the state,” Karamchandani told TOI.

Gujarat produced 40 lakh MT of potatoes in 2018-19 as against India’s potato output of 520 lakh MT. The state accounted for 1 lakh MT of India’s total potato exports of 3.80 MT. Market experts predict that India can also emerge as a leader for frozen potato snacks to Asian countries – which are currently dependent on Europe and the US for import of french fries.

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