Mr. Yan Hongzhi
In conversation with Mr. Yan Hongzhi, president Linkage Inner Mongolia (China)
Now is the time to seize opportunities in China. My guess is that only 3-5% of the Chinese people eat potatoes. But the potato market is growing very fast. And with over 1.3 billion inhabitants, there is a lot of potential.
Help from the government
The reason for the explosive growth is the central government. It decided that the potato has to become a staple food and announced a policy to push forward the use and consumption of potatoes. So the government is helping us to develop the market by telling the people potatoes are healthy.
Poor man’s food
Chinese people eat mostly rice and wheat products, but little potatoes. Traditionally the potato is consumed in poor areas of China. The vast majority of the people live in developed areas. They don’t eat potatoes because they associate them with poverty. Now the government advertises the benefits of potatoes, people realize it is a healthy food and start to eat more potatoes. Also fast food restaurants are popular, especially with the young generation. They enjoy eating French fries, crisps and also mashed potatoes.
Keeping the pace
The seed potato market needs to grow fast to keep up with the increase of potato consumption. Linkage produces minitubers and seed potatoes (10.000 tons) and is also active in potato cultivation (90.000 tons), storage and processing. We supply potatoes to several large customers, operate a potato flakes factory and set up a joint venture with Farm Frites for the production of French Fries.
More successful together
To stay ahead of the competition we must produce high quality seed potatoes. That is why I am talking to HZPC about finding a way to cooperate in China. They have excellent new varieties. Innovator is my favourite variety. It has very good taste and is suitable for planting in our sandy soils. Next spring we start with Ivory Russet mini tubers. HZPC also has a lot of experience. The staff is very polite and everyone is an expert. Also we share the same values, which makes it easy to communicate. HZPC is a good partner for Linkage.
For HZPC I think it is wise to choose a partner to cooperate with in developing the potato chain in our country. A local partner knows Chinese conditions and culture. That saves resources and is a successful way for an international company to enter the market. We can stand together in the market and both promote our companies. Together we are able to seize the opportunities in China.