Potatoes seem like an unlikely ingredient for ice cream, but the allure of tasting the strange concoction had dozens of visitors lining-up at the China Kitchen exhibition at the 2015 World Potato Congress in Beijing. The 1,000-square-meter stall was serving up to 100 potato-based foods, from noodles to sweet purple drinks, developed by Xisen Potato Industry Co. Ltd., the country’s biggest potato producer. By combining potatoes with traditional Chinese cuisine, the company is at the congress looking for partners to promote their new products being tested at the China Kitchen.
With China promoting potato acreage and encouraging the vegetable as one of the country’s staple foods, more companies like Xisen want to take a bigger slice of the growing market. Around 500 km away from Beijing, Linkage Potato Co. Ltd., based in Inner Mongolia, China’s major potato production base, is expanding its product portfolio to satisfy people’s appetite. With five farms and a 70,000-mu (around 4,667 hectares) high standard planting base, the company produces potatoes and seeds and processes potato flakes.
Yan Hongxin, vice president of Linkage, told Xinhua that the company will set up a new production line in autumn to increase its annual output of potato flakes from current 3,000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes. In addition, they are eyeing the frozen French fry market as domestic demand grows, driven by expanding fast food chains. In March this year, it has established a joint venture with Farm Frites, a Dutch enterprise with over 40 years experiences in potato processing, in Wudan Town, Chifeng City in Inner Mongolia.
The new production line will have a capacity of 70,000 tonnes frozen French fries annually with consumption of 140,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes. The fries will be put into the market by 2017 and expansion will continue after that, Yan said.