China Roots for Potatoes – Largest Potato Producer in the World Now Focuses on Increasing Domestic Consumption
China is betting on expanding its potato acreage to bring in more revenues to the agricultural sector as well as the food processing sector. Key interest areas lie in processed potato-based foods such as French fries, potato flakes and innovative products such as potato-based noodles. The industry’s confidence in potato farming has been growing and several fresh investments are set to be infused in potato production and processing alike.
The Chinese agricultural ministry has undertaken several measures to encourage more farmers to cultivate potatoes; as a result, the market is growing at healthy pace. Naturally, companies that are already invested in the potato market in China are looking to lay claim to a larger share of the expanding revenue pie.
A case in point would be Linkage Potato Co. Ltd., which is actively expanding its current line-up of potato-based products and hopes to whet the appetite of Chinese consumers in the process. The company has five farms in Inner Mongolia, where the majority of potato is cultivated in China. This region is attracting many food processing companies as the lucrativeness of potatoes scales upward.
Anticipating an increase in demand, Linkage told a leading media agency in China that it was planning to boost its current potato-flake-production capacity from 3,000 tons currently to about 15,000 tons this year.
Although China produces the maximum potatoes in the world, its domestic potato consumption fades in comparison to that in Europe. The consumption of potatoes in China currently stands at 41.2 kilograms – this remarkably lower than the United States and Europe. Currently, about 5.5 million hectares of land are under potato cultivation in China. This, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture says, is ostensibly because people in China are still not fully aware of the high nutritional value that potatoes offer.
But if China has to successfully increase revenues from potato production, it needs to focus on improving seed quality, cultivation and irrigation practices as well as bring about a change in current eating habits.