Farm Frites Links up With Linkage Potato Co. in China
Oudenhoorn, Holland-headquartered Farm Frites has inked a deal with Inner Mongolia Linkage Potato Co. Ltd (Linkage) to establish a joint venture in Wudan Town, Chifeng City, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region of China. Doing business as Inner Mongolia Linkage Farm Frites Co., Linkage is the majority owner with 75% of the company’s shares. Farm Frites holds the other 25%.
Uppermost on the agenda for the new enterprise is the construction of a plant with initial capacity to produce 70,000 tons frozen french fries per annum. The facility will be constructed next to an existing flakes factory operated by Linkage.
Linkage, which has been engaged in the potato sector since 2006, supplies spuds to a number of large clients. It produces mini tubers and seed potatoes, and is also active in potato cultivation and storage. The company operates four modern farms with a growing area of 50,000 mu equipped with extensive irrigation systems.
Yan Hongzhi, chief executive officer of Linkage, welcomed the cooperation with Farm Frites, as it will enhance the company’s knowhow for cultivation and processing of potatoes for the growing premium french fry market in China. All raw material will be sourced from growers within an area less than 200 kilometers from the factory.
Farm Frites CEO Piet de Bruijne views the venture as an “excellent opportunity to build a strategic position in China, the largest food market in the world.”
The Dutch company’s entry into production in the PRC China means that all of the world’s top five global producers of frozen french fries are now on the ground in that country.
Steenderen, Holland-headquartered Aviko, a unit of Royal Cosun, has been engaged in potato flake production in China for some time. Recently it entered into an agreement with Snow Valley Agriculture to produce frozen french fries at a factory situated about 300 kilometers north of Beijing.
Eagle, Idaho, USA-headquartered Lamb Weston, a ConAgra company that has been doing business in China and throughout Asia for more than a quarter of a century, earlier this year acquired TaiMei Potato Industry Limited, a potato processor in Shangdu, Inner Mongolia.
Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada-headquartered McCain Foods has been producing french fries and other frozen potato products at a factory in Harbin that went on line in 2005.
J.R. Simplot of Boise, Idaho, USA, has been on the scene since 1990, having been the first foreign company to pack french fries in China, in league with a joint venture partner, at the Beijing Simplot Food Processing Co. Ltd. facility in Nanyan, just outside Beijing. The operation was set up in a vegetable processing plant during the early days of the establishment of Western-style quick service restaurants in the China market.
Farm Frites, an independent family-owned company founded in 1971, currently has eight production plants operating in the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Egypt and Argentina. Combined production is more than 1.3 million tons of potatoes annually, with customers in both in retail and foodservice sectors in more than 40 countries.