Strategic Business Development Area focuses on projects which can have a big impact on the future position and growth of HZPC. This nursery is focused on projects which present opportunities, such as the development of new markets and innovations within the potato chain.
HZPC’s worldwide growth has been translated into six geographical projects on which work is taking place. This includes areas with a rapidly growing population where the potato is still only consumed on a relatively small scale such as China, India and Central Africa and areas where strong growth is possible with new varieties such as North and South America and Russia. The projects concentrate on chain development, the introduction of varieties and the further expansion of local production.
In India we are at present building a new production facility with the Mahindra group where it will ultimately be possible to produce 9,000,000 mini-tubers for the local market. It is envisaged that this facility will be ready in November 2016. This is excellent timing as the first HZPC varieties are expected to be approved for registration in August 2016 (Plant Variety Protection). This will put us well on the way towards our objective in India, namely selling 100,000 tonnes of high quality seed potatoes within 10 years.
The market is continuing to grow in China as well and we are working to improve our market position. At present this is occurring on the basis of cooperation agreements and sale of licences. Our objective in China is to have our own seed potato company in the foreseeable future where local seed potatoes can be grown and sold. Seven HZPC varieties are registered in China at present.
The Russian market is also extensive with great potential. As Russia intends to be as self-sufficient as possible, we are working hard to set up local production of seed potatoes in Russia. A significant part of this work takes place in conjunction with local partners via a strong certification system based on HZPC quality standards. Our participation in HZPC Sadokas, which is now at 100%, plays a central role in these developments.
In the North American market, we would like to be market leader in the yellow-fleshed segment. However that segment only covers around 11% of the total market, which is dominated by white-fleshed potatoes. With a few highly promising, white-fleshed varieties in our portfolio in both the fresh produce and processing market, we can see fantastic opportunities for further expanding our market share. As the total potato market in North America is moderately saturated, we are exploring whether we can provide greater added value with our existing and new varieties.
Growth through innovation in the chain
Alongside future geographical growth, we are also working on projects that focus on growth via innovation in the chain. These involve very diverse projects, such as developing products that target the modern, informed consumer, web and mobile applications and the use of knowledge technology in potato cultivation or processing.
One example of this is Solentum B.V., a participation which makes knowledge technology user friendly for the agricultural industry. The many years of experience which HZPC has acquired in this area are also accessible for partners in the chain via Solentum. The first commercial successes with this were recorded over the past year. One example of this is the Soleye, a technology which scores the colour of cooked and fried potatoes accurately and consistently, thereby replacing the human eye. Various Soleye machines have now been put to use in the fries industry with great success. The Solgrader is another technology which is ready for introduction to the market. It is a combination of an app and apparatus to measure the expected yield of a potato plant in the field quickly and easily and to record the findings. Many of our projects are focused on responsible food, which fits in with our mission and the demand from the market for healthy and sensible food. Fries4all is a current example of this. Potatoes are healthy but regular consumption of fried food is not.
How can we let people with health problems such as diabetes continue to enjoy French fries? In conjunction with RSK and HB Specialty Foods Europe we developed French fries which contains 30 - 40% fewer calories, which does not require fat for the final preparation and which is also low in sodium. We expect plenty of interest in this innovative product. This will not just come from existing consumers of French fries and distribution outlets but also from people who do not consume chips and catering outlets which do not practise deep frying.
We envisage an increasing role for knowledge technology in our sector. New techniques are not only able to ensure better yields; they also assist in economical handling of water, fertilisers and pesticides. With Solentum we intend to apply complex techniques in combination with well-considered models in concrete products and solutions which will benefit our partners in the chain.
In addition we will continue to dedicate ourselves to trying to get the potato onto the plate of the consumer more frequently by developing innovative and convenience products and using marketing to spread the idea that the potato is an indispensable part of a healthy, tasty and varied diet.