The food sector is booming in Flanders. “We have the best raw materials here, the best potatoes,” says Romain Cools, secretary-general of the Belgapom sector federation. “Flanders is in the middle of the European potato-growing area: the soil and climate are ideal here. Additionally, there are several ports close by to serve overseas markets.”
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Aviko (NL) chips away at frozen foods market with fries factory
Food companies are also benefitting from the increasing demand for frozen potato products worldwide. The demand for deep-frozen potato products is increasing by 4% each year. In some regions in Asia and South America, it is growing by more than 10% per year, according to statistics from Aviko.
For Belgian and Flanders-based companies, France and the UK are still the most important export markets, but emerging countries such as India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are gaining in importance. The population is growing there, as is prosperity. On average, a person in Asia eats only 1.5 kilograms of potato products per year – while a Belgian consumes 7 kilograms – but this numbers are rapidly increasing.
"Potato acreage has reached an all-time record, and it's still growing. Pair that with a focus on technology and innovation. Take the WatchIT Grow project, for example, in which growers use satellite images and software to monitor their fields, predict harvests, quickly detect problems and intervene if necessary. It’s clear that Belgium and Flanders are at top of the league,” Cools concludes.
With Dutch as its official language, Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen) is the autonomous northern region of Belgium. The capital of both Belgium and Flanders is Brussels.