Potato processor Agristo has invested EUR200m in a new French fry factory in Wielsbeke, Belgium, hoping to enter the top five processors, following this strategic move.
“This is the most innovative French fry factory in the world”, Filip Wallays, who runs the company alongside Hannelore Raes told tijd.be. “Pretty much everything is automated, which requires only fifteen people per shift, with five shifts in total, to operate the plant.”
The company will open a second production line soon, which should enable an overall production of 200,000 tons of frozen French fries per year and create another 160 jobs. Agristo has invested EUR200m into the new factory, which is a sizeable sum for a family business with a EUR350m euro turnover and no outside capital.
“The frozen potato food industry requires a lot of capital, with high volumes and low margins”, Wallays said. “Our products are private labels in supermarkets across 120 countries. We sell one kilo of French fries for 60 cents and that is why we need to generate turnover. Our EBITDA is about 10 to 12%.”
The goal is to nearly double the company’s turnover to EUR650m in the next five years. Agristo also wants to increase its market share from 4 to 7 %. “That is the only way we can enter the top five. Our fathers founded the company and we want to make it big”, Hannelore Raes said.