Frito-Lay Thailand is tripling the area planted to potatoes to 7,900 acres and developing a seed sector to reduce the need for imports as demand soars.
Only 70,000 tons of the 120,000 tons consumed each year now are locally grown for a market worth US$216 million a year.
Frito-Lay makes chips and other snacks under such brands as Lay, Cheetos, Doritos, Munchos, Sunchip, and MunMun at its factory in Lumphun using potatoes supplied by 6,000 contract growers in the northern provinces.
The company is evaluating local production of seed and has opened a laboratory to develop varieties. Imported seed now comes from the U.S., Canada, Britain, and Australia. Scotland-based Gordon and Innes Ltd. is the largest seed supplier.
The increased seed production should cut imported seed by 10 percent. Meantime, seed supplier Thai Agro Tech Services Co. is testing a number of varieties and this year plans to introduce Atlantic and Spunta.