Keeping an eye on global demand for potato-based products, Banas Dairy is setting up a Rs 100-crore potato processing unit in North Gujarat that will take on established brands like McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd and Hyfun Foods in their backyard.
The unit that will have an annual capacity to process 50,000 metric tonnes of potatoes will focus on producing French fries and 12 other potato products for both domestic and international markets in the South-East Asia. “The civil work for the project has already begun. Machinery for the plant will be imported from Netherlands and we have targeted to begin production by October 2021,” said Kamraj Chaudhary, Managing Director of Banas Dairy which collects 70 lakh litres of milk daily and describes itself as “Asia’s biggest milk producer.”
The manufacturing unit is being set up near Diyodar in Banaskantha district of North Gujarat which is a hub for potato farmers. “Not only is North Gujarat a potato growing region, there is a lot of demand globally for potato products like French fries. We recently, exported some of the products including French fries to Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore,” Chaudhary added. Banas Dairy — which is one of the 18 cooperative unions under the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) — currently procures 7,000 metric tonne of potatoes from 500 odd farmers and manufacturers potato-based products at a hired unit in North Gujarat. Couple of years ago, Banaskantha had pipped Uttar Pradesh’s Agra to become the country’s largest potato producing district. Even the quality of potatoes grown by farmers in the state are superior. Though Gujarat grows only 10 per cent of total potatoes produced in India, it accounts for 27 per cent of potato exports.
For every kilogram of French fries, two kilograms of potatoes are needed. The 9 mm (millimetre) French fries are usually exported, while the smaller 6mm is consumed in the domestic market. The hired potato processing unit also manufacturers Veggie stix, burger patties, aloo tikka and potato wedges. These ready to cook and serve potato products are currently being marketed under the brand “Amul Happy Treats.”
“At present we do not have our own unit and so there are some concerns regarding quality. Once the new unit comes up, we will not only improve quality, but will be able to procure more potatoes from farmers through contract farming,” the managing director of Banas Dairy said.
Banas Dairy is getting a subsidy of Rs 21 crore from the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries for setting up this unit which is 90-odd kilometres from Mehsana where similar potato processing units of McCain and Hyfun Foods, operate. “Our biggest advantage is Amul’s existing logistics and marketing network. We are already providing potato seeds at Rs 2 less a kilogram than those provided by private players in Banaskantha,” Chaudhary added.