Restaurants and kitchens closed, events cancelled en masse. The impact of this on global potato consumption is clear. The chain has had a difficult year. Yet we must remain hopeful, because the potato still has a golden future.
I see and hear that, during these bizarre, tough times, our sector has not really come to a halt. A serious slowing down? Yes, but by no means a stop. What you do notice is a lot of doubt, people have started thinking and calculating. That’s logical with the many challenges such as Brexit and changing regulations. However, the slowdown also gives time to think about the future of the industry.
We’re currently noticing two major movements in our sector; that of vertical integration and that of further industrialisation. There are strong arguments for both flows. Those who bet on vertical integration resolutely choose to build a strong niche and excel at it: ‘Farm to Fork’. The focus is on quality and innovation. Those who opt for further industrialisation focus on economies of scale and are particularly committed to efficiency and cost .consciousness. We definitely have both the necessary knowledge and expertise here. However, different parties with complementary activities should be able to come to terms a bit more easily, in order to achieve more together. For themselves and for the industry. Sector federations can certainly support us further in this.
The growing world population and our changing diet is also positive news for the potato and for vegetables in general. Moreover, the increasing attention to issues such as CO2 emissions and water consumption is also steering people towards ‘our’ crop. On both indicators, the potato can present much better figures than, rice or pasta, for example.
Now is the time, in this temporarily imposed pause and before demand resumes in full force, to decide for ourselves which strategic choice we will make for the coming years: commit to the creation of added value for the potato or to the smart cultivation of large volumes. There is no wrong answer.
The content of this blog is the Potato World Vision column by Hendrik Decramer (pictured on the right), CEO of the Dewulf Group, published in PotatoWorld magazine 2021/01.
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