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McCain Foods to modernize and expand French potato processing facilities for sustainable growth

This article is based on insights provided by Harry Campbell, market analyst at Mintec, and further comments by Simon Duke, managing editor, EMEA news at Mintec

In a significant move to boost production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, McCain Foods has unveiled plans to invest €350 million over the next five years in its French potato processing facilities. This investment aims to expand the company’s production capacity and support the growth of its operations in France.

The funds will be directed towards McCain’s sites in Harnes, Béthune, and Matougues, all located in northern and northeastern France. These facilities, which collectively employ approximately 800 people, have reached full production capacity, according to McCain Foods CEO Max Koeune.

The announcement was made during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Matougues factory on May 13, part of the “Choose France” event, which highlights foreign investment in the country.

During Macron’s visit, local media reported that €25 million of the investment will be allocated to modernizing the Matougues plant. This facility currently produces around 650 tonnes of frozen fries per day, with half of the output sold domestically and the other half exported. McCain Foods aims to increase its overall French production capacity by 25%, Koeune stated.

Market analyst Harry Campbell from Mintec provided insights into the broader market trends driving this investment.

“The French and European markets for processed potatoes have seen significant growth in recent years,” Campbell noted. “This surge is driven by the rising demand for convenience foods and advancements in food processing technologies. Products such as frozen fries, crisps, and dehydrated potato flakes are increasingly popular, not only in Europe but also in expanding markets across Asia and the Americas.”

Campbell highlighted several key factors contributing to the growth of the processed potato industry. These include the development of more efficient processing methods, the adoption of high-yielding potato varieties better suited for processing, and enhanced marketing and branding efforts that have elevated the profile of processed potato products.

However, they also pointed out the challenges facing the industry, such as price volatility and supply chain disruptions, which are often exacerbated by climate-related impacts on potato yields.

“Adverse weather conditions have periodically reduced the availability of key potato varieties, leading to supply shortages and increased prices,” Campbell explained. “As a result, many processors in 2024 have had to import their raw materials from further afield.”

Campbell cited the Netherlands as a prime example of this trend.

“Dutch imports for the 2023/24 market year account for 41.2% of the total supply, compared to 33.3% in the 2022/23 market year,” he said.

The substantial investment by McCain Foods underscores the company’s commitment to enhancing its production capabilities and addressing environmental concerns, while also responding to the growing demand for processed potato products globally.

Harry Campbell
Market Analyst and Researcher, Mintec
+44 (0) 7542 3000 20
Image: Credit McCain Foods

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