Aviko Debuts Gastro Gratin; Awaits Mid-July Potato Crop
Aviko has launched Gastro Gratin in the United Kingdom retail market. The premium side dish features mature Godminster Cheddar cheese, steam blanched sliced potatoes, rosemary and thyme. Two pieces come per 200-gram box.
Also available in larger count packs for foodservice operators, the highly versatile, gluten-free gratins can be quickly cooked from frozen to order. With a holding time of 60 minutes, they're especially convenient during busy service periods, high volume banquets and event catering occasions.
The Steenderen, Holland-headquartered producer also offers Cream & Cheese Potato Gratin (two pieces per 150-gram carton) and two other flavors in 200-gram retail packs.
“The gratins will not only have stand-out on menus, but can help justify a premium price to drive profits,” according to the company’s marketing department. “They're versatile too and are delicious as a side or added to other ingredients, such as salmon, meat or vegetables, before placing in the oven.”
Potato Crop Update
Meanwhile, as the frozen potato processing industry in Europe awaits the mid-July crop harvest, the daily price for tubers has risen significantly from €210 per ton in the third week of March to €255 per ton during the first week of June.
Cold weather and lack of rain have delayed the initial growth of the 2017 early crop. The first potatoes of the season come from Rheinland, Germany, and only part of these early potato crops are irrigated. With normal levels of rainfall expected in the next few weeks for this time of the year, Aviko’s German supplier anticipates that the delivery of new crop spuds may still start during the third week of July. At the moment the trade is dealing with a limited supply of the old crop and the uncertainty about the connection between the old and the new crop.
In April, the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) published the 2017 estimated hectare figures for the top five potato producing nations of the European Union, namely Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Great Britain. With a total of 572,485 hectares under cultivation, the area has increased by 3.6% compared to last year. In 2016 the area had already expanded by 4.8%, but this didn't result in higher production. Despite the increase in cultivated land, production in 2016 trailed behind 2015 by 3%, due to very unfavorable growing conditions.
“In the European climate zone, weather circumstances and the structure of soil, which also depends on the weather, may result in very different yields per hectare,” said Jan Willem Peters of Aviko Potato. “The EU-5 average yield per hectare from 2012 until 2016 was 46.8 tons, with a 2012 minimum of 44 tons and a 2014 maximum of 52.1 tons.”
This maximum of 52.1 tons per hectare, which is 18.2 % above the minimum yield, illustrates that area figures do not determine the final production of EU-5 crop years. This underscores why it is so difficult to predict anything about production volumes, let alone prices.
The main crop had an early start with favorable planting conditions in April. During the month of May, low temperatures delayed the development of the crop and lack of rain, combined with high temperatures in the second half of May, did not improve the situation.
Despite dry soil, the crop is growing and does not show signs of suffering from current drought conditions. It appears that the plants are developing a good root system that might help them through dry periods later in the season.
“With occasional showers and the rainfall anticipated in the coming weeks, there is no reason we should expect problems with the 2017 crop,” said Peters. “We can conclude that hectarage has expanded enough to meet the increased demand of the EU potato processing industry. However, the weather will determine the final yield per hectare, and with that, the total EU-5 2017 potato production.”
Ranked as the fourth largest value-added potato products company in the world, Aviko annually processes 1,700,000 tons of spuds at plants in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Sweden and China.