The Future of Fries

The Future of Fries

The Future of Fries. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

America has a love/hate relationship with the potato. And French fried in particular. On the one hand it ranks as one of the top sides when we eat out but the American consumer has been viewing it more and more as the reason for the obesity problem and that is not fair. Frank van Schyaak with McCain Foods USA spoke to the combined potato industry in Orlando, Florida during the 2010 Potato Expo.

VAN SCHAAYK: Building a 20/20 Vision is a great theme for this conference because I think that’s what we’re talking about because if we look at the last decade, it has not been a great decade for potato consumption in the United States. It’s been an ok decade for the industry in some ways but it has not been an ok decade when we look at the long term prospects for our product.

The potato industry has seen 9 straight years of decline and that includes both the fried and non-fried potato. He says it’s important to take stock and do something about it.

VAN SCHAAYK: An acquaintance of mine who happens to be a professor, Amy Edmondson coined a phrase for this called “ambiguous threat.” If you think about that word ambiguous what it means in a nutshell is this threat – everyday we look at it and we’re not sure if it is a threat or whether it’s really going to hurt us. Well I’m here to tell you if we allow 9 more years of declining consumption at the rate that we see it today, it will hurt us.

McCain Foods feels it’s important to set the record straight about the role the potato plays in our every day diet.

VAN SCHAAYK: If consumers somehow unfairly and permanently adopt the belief that our products are inferior from a health prospective then our industry is in serious trouble, period. Those that may believe this problem will go away on its own or that it could be solved as independent segments or players in the industry are also I might suggest is misguided.

He says that is important that the food industry come to the plate to help combat the obesity problem we have not only in the U.S. but around the world.

VAN SCHAAYK: However, we’re equally interested in ensuring that the debate around food is whole some and that it is accurate. Not one where certain foods with nutritious profiles are unfairly scape-goated. When you see a French fry on the front of a national magazine talking about cancer, that’s unfair scapegoat. We have to reverse that debate as an industry. None of us can do that alone.

More on Monday.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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