2016 was an absolute record year for the Belgian potato procession sector, according to Belgapom, the association for the Belgian potato trade and processing industry.
The fact that this growth sector within the Belgian food industry with 4.4 million tonnes (+ 11% compared to 3.97 million tonnes in 2015) once again processed a record volume of potatoes is not new, but the increase from one calendar year to the next has never been so great.
The sharpest rise was seen in the production of frozen fries (1.68 million tonnes, + 14.3% compared to 2015), but the production of fresh fries (234,700 tonnes, + 3.5 %) and other products (crisps, mashed products, flakes, etc. 468,513 tonnes, + 1.7%) also rose.
The rise in frozen fries is no surprise, after all the Belgian potato processing industry exports 80% of its total production, of which an increasingly large share goes to third countries all over the world.
What is more, with a turnover of EUR1.55bn, in 2016 the sector employed 4,115 which is a remarkable increase compared to the 3,537 employees in 2015.
The fact that the potato sector has faith in the future is illustrated by the highest investment figure since the start of the annual observations in 1995: in 2016 no less than EUR310m (+ 85% compared to the previous record year 2015) were invested in quantitative and high-quality innovations within the sector, of which the greater part are family companies.