Potato processing in Ukraine: current trends and challenges

Potato industry: how Ukrainian volunteers fill the niche of professional processors

Beeld: ©Potato Planting Agrico Ukraine

Most industries require the presence and operation of production and processing enterprises.

Ukrainian potato industry  has 7 starch factories. One of them is listed among TOP 10 the best starch production companies in the world and a largest potato starch manufacturer in the eastern Europe.

Currently, their capacity is sufficient not only to meet domestic needs (9-12 thousand tons of potato starch, which is used mostly for meat-processing industry), but also for export (more than 18 thousand tons in case of regular supply of raw materials to factories).

UA French Fries Factory
Beeld: ©NL Embassy in Ukraine
French fries production in Ukraine

There are factories for the production of chips in Ukraine:

- TM "Lux" (Mondelez),

- TM Lays (Pepsico),

- local producer "Club of Chips" (LLC "Snack Product"), which has several production sites and manufactures products under the TM Chipsters, as well as Private Label ATB "Svoya Liniya".

For many years the companies that wash and pack potatoes for retail operate in Ukraine, among them TM "Ovochista" (PP "Impak"), TM "Matusya Potusia" (a group of Green Guild companies), TM "Freshko" (a project of the ATK agricultural holding for the sale of washed potatoes in a number of retail chains, own potato production of the company is closed, and the washing project is working well even now).

Last year the washing lines were installed by Technologies Ukraine LLC, agricultural holdings Continental Farmers Group and BestPotato (potato division "Mais"). Before the war, the country needed at least 10 enterprises like that, ideally one in each region.

dried potato Vinnytsia
volunteers dry potato in Vinnytsia

Cleaning and vacuuming of potatoes and vegetables is mainly done by the retail (Auchan, Novus, Silpo) as an attempt to reduce the product loss. However, this segment is not very profitable since requires varieties suitable for this type of processing.

War is always a test for the economy. A test of its survivability, stability and resilience to meet, first of all, the needs of the domestic market and providing its own army with everything it needs. And unfortunately the potato and vegetable processing industry was not completely ready for providing army and hot points with humanitarian crisis with the deeply processed potato products like dried mashed potatoes, freeze-dried and dried , peeled (even blanched) and vacuumed potatoes and vegetables.

The heavy attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and destruction of the electricity system affected not only the life of people but also the work of HoReCa. In the conditions of constant power outages, many of them would gladly purchase semi-finished products - boiled and chopped vegetables and potatoes. The need of such products was also mentioned during the launching of the Kitchen – Factory in the deoccupied town Bucha in Kyiv Region in the framework of the School Food Reform initiated by the First Lady of Ukraine. It will provide lunches for schools and kindergardens in the neighbourhood of Kyiv which was severely affected by war. In Bucha, it is planned that the Kitchen-Factory can provide up to 10000 portions of lunches daily not only for children but also for locals that due to war cannot provide or cook for themselves.

Therefore, the war insreased the demand for the semi-finished products and finished products from potato and vegetables, but, unfortunately, there is no  supply in sufficient quantity. If the local business does not find its way, then the imported products will take this niche.

It is high time for the local farmer to start production of the varieties suitable for washing, cleaning and vacuuming, blanching and slicing. The local farmers are not very familiar with varieties for freezing, dry mashed potato and flakes.  There is still deficit of raw material for starch production.

Currently there are 3 varieties registered in Ukraine  - ultra-late Kuras (from Agrico) and Eurostarch (from Europlant) and a universal variety suitable for both starch production and the fresh market - Suzanne (Europlant).

If international institutions want to support seed programs in Ukraine, then they should be focused on these priorities, starting with variety testing, entering the State Register and training the potential raw material producers to grow a quality product.

Potato training Agrico

The training of the raw material base -  the farmers is an important topic for Ukraine. Often the local representatives offices have to convince their EU head offices to create the agronomic divisions in Ukraine that would not only contract the future harvest, advise producers in the fields and warehouses, but also perform the role a kind of supervisors to  guide potatoes from the field to the processing factories.  

No factory for washing and processing potatoes or a potential freezer, producer of dry mashed potatoes can afford an agronomic department - it is not affordable and there are in fact no specialists. This function could be taken over by the representative offices of foreign breeding companies in Ukraine.

Based on the post of Oksana Ruzhenkova, expect at World Bank click this link

Related news: Kitchen-Factory in Bucha – click this link

Materials of the Forum on Reforming of School Food System click this link