The estimated total annual potato production in Saudi Arabia varies between 400,000 MT 450,000 MT (of which most is suitable for processing into French fries) Imported potatoes account for 40,000 MT to 50,000 MT annually.
There are literally hundreds of potato producers in Saudi Arabia comprising potato production units of all sizes and capabilities, growing many varieties for sale mainly to the wholesale markets. Over 75% of the total potato production in the Kingdom comes from small farmers grouped in different regions, and who supply local wholesale markets.
Potatoes of many varieties have been grown at TADCO over the years, and today TADCO is the single biggest potato producer in the Kingdom, supplying over 65% of the requirements of Saudi French fries factories for locally grown potatoes.
TADCO’s potato production has traditionally been spread over two crops per year – (i) a “spring” crop with planting in January and harvest in June / July) and (ii) an “autumn” crop with planting in August and harvest in December / January. In 2004, TADCO produced for the first time in Saudi Arabia a third “summer” crop, and it now has the unique distinction of being one of the few potato producers in the world which can supply the French Fries factories in Saudi Arabia all-year-round.
Our potato yields are excellent, and this greatly helps reduce our Unit production costs, which makes our potatoes competitive for supplying the factories.
The equipment used to plant, grow, and harvest the potatoes includes 6 “Cruz” planters, 5 “Grimme” harvesters, 2 “Grimme” diggers, and 5 “Carulle” sprayers. The potato stores are among the most advanced in the world, allowing for “curing” and storage for up to 6 months. Where possible, environmentally friendly chemicals are used so as not to harm beneficial insects or the environment, and only natural plant extract from eucalyptus tree is used as a sprout suppressant during storage.
TADCO focuses on producing potatoes of the required specifications for French fries factories and chips factories, and is now producing potatoes with a recovery rate of 60%+ for the processing factories, which is also very good for the factories themselves because this lowers their unit production costs.
Some potatoes are sold fresh from the harvest, although most of the potatoes (and onions) are stored in our highly sophisticated cold stores. Both potatoes (and onions) are “conditioned” for as long as necessary to ensure they can be stored for up to 10 months. Thereafter, as-and-when the market requires, the potatoes and onions are graded, inspected and packed.
Such is our success with our customers, that TADCO is now the most sought-after potato producer / supplier in the Kingdom. The French Fries factories find many attractions in doing business with us. For example we offer flexibility with withdrawal from our cold stores (saving our factory customers the cost and hassle of cold storage). Our potatoes are also known for their high “recoverability” meaning that the factories are able to process the maximum quantity possible of high quality French fries from our potatoes. We are also the only agricultural company to provide a product sales manager dedicated to sales of potatoes (and onions), so he provides a superior customer service than our competitors.
French fries factories also benefit from reduced operating costs because of our high quality potatoes (which reduces “stop-starts” on the factory floor), and the factories also appreciate the trust and transparency when dealing with TADCO. Our French Fries factory customers own customers in-turn are happy with the high quality French Fries.
The French fries factories now measure their benefits in terms of unit production cost and productivity instead of just the absolute cost of potatoes. In this regard, TADCO has done a great deal to improve the proficiencies of the French Fries factories in the Kingdom.
For the general public, our “table” or “kitchen” potatoes are mainly sold on markets all over the Kingdom and are well liked.
The total market for processing potatoes is growing every year as the Kingdom’s population continues its rapid growth rate. Currently the French Fries market size is 200,000 MT of raw potatoes, and this is expected to increase much more in the next few years. In fact the existing French fries factories in the Kingdom are embarking on very ambitious expansion programs, more than doubling their capacities in anticipation of huge increase in demand for French fries.
In 2009 we hope to test-market a new low-calorie potato variety in response to consumer demand for lower calorie foods in general.