Thursday and Friday of last week saw Elke, myself and Maria from Dewberry Redpoint get under the skin of the good old potato, when we jetted off to Holland to spend an action packed 2 days with Aviko (Europe’s largest potato processor). With factory tours, briefings and of course lots of food (including some delicious Aviko potato dishes) we unearthed the story of the potato. From field to fork it’s amazing how many stages the humble potato goes through to reach us! From grading and sorting, cleaning, cutting, cooking, chilling, freezing, packing, storing we saw it all! (All whilst looking as elegant as ever in blue hair nets and extra large lab coats! Oh the glamour!)
Amongst this huge download of information there are three things that I will remember most…
1) How incredibly efficient their manufacturing plant is when it comes to recycling energy and using everything that comes from the potato. From starch to peelings nothing is wasted, even the excess heat goes to heat the local swimming pool! It may have started off as a cost efficiency drive back in the day but the result is an incredibly environmentally friendly production facility!
2) The people at Aviko are lovely – I’ve been on a number of factory visits and I have to say Jan Kelderman, Deputy Production Director was the most enthusiastic tour guide I have ever come across. His passion for what he did really shined through and remember this was in his second language! (Thank goodness all our Dutch colleges are so good at English – frankly my Dutch isn’t up to much!)
3) When you go into a frozen storage area the inside of your nose (I think you get my drift) freezes – it is very odd!!
Anyway, if you want to find out more about the secret life of the potato, Maria is already hard at work drafting copy for BFFF and Stockpot, so keep an eye out in the trade press for more on the Aviko story!
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