Gujarat potato plus McCain Foods is McDonald’s Indian French fry

March 8th, 2008 - 12:54 pm ICT by admin  

Ahmedabad, March 8 (IANS) Millions of consumers in India munch McDonald’s French fry, also called Mac Fry, every day. But many of them might not be knowing that the potato they relish comes from Gujarat, thanks to an initiative by the Indian subsidiary of US multinational McCain Foods. McCain Foods India (MFI) processes and supplies frozen potato products from its swanky $14.6 million plant on the National Highway number 8 that connects Delhi and Mumbai. The plant is located 60 km away from Ahmedabad, enroute to Mehsana.

The plant, which has a capacity to process 40,000 tonnes of potato a year, went on stream in June 2007.

McCain’s journey to success began in 1997 when it made its entry into India with a proposal to invest Rs.1 billion ($25 million) in potato fry business.

“We were determined to stay put in India and make a success of the venture,” Dilip Mukherjee, country manager of MFI, told a group of reporters who visited the plant.

He said after a thorough study, the company concluded that Indian potato was not the ideal one for the business. Potatoes, which were larger in size and had less water content, were required, he said.

For the kind of potato needed, Mukherjee said, it was necessary to develop the seed in cold climate. A team of researchers then took up the task of developing the seed at Lahul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.

After developing the seed the company started a search for the best area for growing the new breeds. That search ended at Mehasana in north Gujarat, as the region was blessed with a stretched wintry condition, which was vital for potato growth.

And since the plant was also coming up in Mehsana, logistics demanded that the potato be grown in nearby areas.

Mukherjee said MFI worked closely with farmers and encouraged them to share the new agronomy practices like relying on quality seed, drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, new planting techniques and adopting contemporary methods of potato storing.

The joint endeavour bore fruit and Shepody, the new jumbo variety of potato, was born in India. Oblong in shape and huge in size Shepody was all weight. And now Santana, another new breed is on the anvil.

Today, Deesa, Vijapur, Palanpur, Himmatnagar in north Gujarat and Anand in central Gujarat have emerged as India’s hubs of new breeds of potato.

Mukherjee claimed that farmers in north Gujarat were now convinced about the profitability of growing new breeds of potato without forsaking the cultivation of traditional varieties, consumed in millions of homes.

The MFI initiative with farmers has resulted in Gujarat growing 2,000 tonnes of new breed of potatoes, which is almost entirely consumed by McDonald India for making French Fries.

By 2010, the potato consumption of McDonald India is expected to reach 12,000 tonnes, almost entire quantity of which will be supplied by MIF, Mukherjee said.

Abhijit Upadhya, director of national supply chain of McDonald’s India, said a thorough logistics supply chain arrangement has been constructed to receive McCain products in frozen form at the national distribution centres for West and South and North and East.

McCain-McDonald’s India’s initiative with Gujarat farmers has grown into a unique technology driven enterprise, he added.

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