Tuesday, November 15, 2016
French fries - from farm to fork
Tasty fries and potato specialties are increasing in popularity all over the world. However, it takes many steps before the products are ready for consumption. These photos show step-by-step how Farm Frites, a potato processor and member of Bayer Food Chain Partnership, ensures high-quality potato production.
Farming: food safety first
All of the farmers who sell their potatoes to Farm Frites – such as Wim de Witte from the Netherlands – need to have a food safety certificate. These certificates are issued by independent companies that check whether crop protection products are used correctly and ensure the food safety of the potatoes sold to Farm Frites.
Tackling challenges together
Over a year ago, Bayer joined forces with Farm Frites, and has supported it since by implementing value-added sustainable practices for growing potatoes and tackling challenges such as reducing emissions caused by farming. Several trials were jointly performed to measure emissions to surface water. Especially hilly areas affected by erosion are in danger of having residue runoff of crop protection products. The trials tested two scenarios: In the first setting, micro dams were implemented between the ridges, and in the second, these dams did not exist. In addition, biodiversity measures are monitored by assessing the number of beneficial insects in flower strips adjacent to potato fields. Moreover, potatoes are also sampled during storage to examine the effects of different germination treatments. Increased traceability and transparency allow retailers to identify weak spots in the supply chain and build up consumer confidence in their produce.
Potato harvest starts in July with the early varieties and ends in October or November with the middle and late varieties. However, Farm Frites processes potatoes throughout the entire year. One third of the potatoes are transported directly from the field to the factory. The rest are kept in storage. Some varieties can be stored for up to nine months in order to enable Farm Frites to keep its production up and running until the new harvest comes in in July. The Food Chain Partnership is an innovative business model developed by Bayer in which all members of the food value chain are involved – for example processors of tomatoes for ketchup or potatoes for French fries.
Farm Frites processes several varieties and has continually updated its portfolio. “We are always testing to find varieties that have good quality aspects,” says Leon Boer, Director Potato Procurement at Farm Frites. “Between breeding and the variety entering the market, it takes 12 to 15 years. We put a lot of effort into developing our products, taking into account environmental aspects as well as profitability for our farmers.”
Profound quality checks
The first quality check is taken directly from the fields because 30 percent of the potatoes go straight from the field to the factories. When the potatoes are stored, samples are taken at the warehouse and the following parameters are checked: underwater weight, length, and frying color, as well as potential defects and diseases.
The second check takes place after the potatoes have arrived at the processing factory. There, samples are taken from different batches and frying tests are performed. Afterwards, a machine automatically measures the fries’ frying color. In this way, it can be determined how to best process the different varieties and food loss can be reduced.
It takes 1.5 hours from the time the potatoes arrive until they are processed into a finished product. After the potatoes arrive and the corresponding quality checks are conducted, the crops are washed and sorted by size. Then the skin is removed and the potatoes are sliced into different sizes. The fries are transported to a blancher that cooks them, and afterwards the potatoes are pre-fried before they are brought to the cooling area where the processed fries are packed.
Ready for dinner
|The products are cooled down to minus 18 degrees Celsius. Fries that are produced for the cool-fresh market are stored at four to six degrees and have a shelf life of 21 days.
About Farm Frites
Farm Frites is a family business that was founded in 1971. Today, Farm Frites has six factories in the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Egypt, and produces 780,000 tons of processed potatoes per year. In 2017, a new factory will open in China. Farm Frites sells its products to retailers and fast food chains around the world.
The global demand for potatoes has been growing steadily over the past few years. While the markets in Europe and North America are still showing increased demand, the growth potential in Asia and Latin America is comparatively much higher.