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An overview of potato production in Saudi Arabia

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.

Potato Production at TADCO
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.

TADCO Potato Marketing
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.

  • Successful coordination between “production” and “marketing”
    A feature unique to TADCO among Saudi agriculture companies is its centralized management which greatly enhances the production and marketing coordination between the potato production and marketing teams for ensuring highest customer satisfaction. The uniqueness of the customer-focus shared by production and marketing has inspired a team philosophy summarized as follows:
  • More time spent on planning together around customer needs.
  • Product Sales Manager is “self-managed”, knows what to do, and understands the importance of his contribution.
  • Coordination between TADCO’s internal departments ensures quick response to problems
  • Commitment to new investment in cold storage infrastructure for better serving the customer
  • Commitment to continuous research for varieties that better suit customers’ needs

 

  • Market Size processing potatoes for French fries:
    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.
  • Potato New Product Development
    In 2009 we hope to test-market a new low-calorie potato variety in response to consumer demand for lower calorie foods in general.

 

Onion Production and Marketing
For the onions, the climate in Tabuk is very suitable for growing high quality and quantity. Our yellow, white or red onion are known to be the best produced in the Kingdom.

All our onions are sold in the markets and also exported to several countries.

Food safety
We also care about the food chain along the potato food business such as French Fries, and that’s why we implement an Integrated Pest Management Program, using only environmentally friendly chemicals for the control of pest infestation and weeds contamination in our potatoes and onions.

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