This section is from the book "The Potato: A Compilation of Information from Every Available Source", by Eugene H. Grubb, W. S. Guilford. Also available from Amazon: The Potato: A Compilation Of Information From Every Available Source.
During the season of 1910 the senior author made a study of manufacturing potato products in Germany, and his notes follow:
The manufacture of starch, potato, flour and glucose at this place was started in 1872. It is now one of the largest and most successful manufacturing centres. The factory there claims to produce the best product in Germany. There are from twenty to thirty factories in the country.
The factory is an immense affair, as large as a million dollar beet-sugar factory in the United States and equipped with the finest machinery. Everything in the factory is kept polished and clean. Germans are noted for this in all their manufacturing plants.
Potatoes come to the factory in cars in bulk. The factory starts about September 1st, or as soon as starch is developed in the potatoes.
The company which owns and operates the factory is owned jointly by the growers and business men of Kyritz. It must be operated at a profit. As manager, Mr. Bergmann was anxious to know if there were opportunities for factories in America.
In the factory every economy that German science and mechanics can invent is employed for the cheap handling of the product, for saving greatest per cent. of high-class products and conserving the by-products.
One of the most interesting features was a pipe line for carrying the water that had been used in extracting the starch from the sliced or pulped potato to a waste piece of sand land grown up to heather, two miles distant. This was reclaiming and building up the fertility of this land. It was seeded to pasture grasses and 200 acres furnished grazing for 300 head of stock.
The pulp or waste is used for stock feeding, the same as beet pulp from sugar-beet factories, but the Germans prolong its use more than we do by drying it so that it retains its feeding value for a year. It is mostly used for cow and pig feed.
Farmers who live long distances from the factory manufacture coarse or crude starch on their farms and ship the gross product to the factory for refining and manufacturing, saving the transportation on raw potatoes and keeping the pulp for their stock.
Potato flour is usually called rough starch. The process of manufacturing has recently been very greatly improved and still greater improvements are now contemplated.
The price of starch and flour is the same. It is ruled by the price of wheat and sells at about the same price per hundred.
Rye flour is improved for baking by its addition. Cake makers and confectioners use it mixed with wheat flour. It makes delicious and nutritious puddings and cakes. The usual price is $5 per barrel of 200 pounds.
When the manager was asked why they had so many casks racked up at a starch factory, he replied: 'I had hoped you would not see them or ask me about them. They are casks in which we ship glucose in to the confectioners of London, Paris, Berlin, and other large cities.'
This glucose is one of the by-products of the factory. It is of the highest quality and brings more money than glucose manufactured from cereals. It sells for 75 cents more per 200 pounds than flour.
This factory uses 250,000 tons of potatoes annually. The price paid for potatoes of 18 to 24 per cent. starch content is 20 to 35 cents per hundred, or 12 to 21 cents per bushel. One of the by-products is 3,500 tons of glucose.
The farmers in irrigated districts of the West can make splendid incomes for growing potatoes for starch. It can also be done by the farmers of the potato-growing states of the East when they bring their lands up to the productiveness they are capable of.
The manufacturing of small and waste and rough potatoes every year, feeding the pulp, and making desiccated potatoes in seasons of overproduction, will make the potato industry more stable and make the prices more even.
With our cheap electric power and coal, as compared with Germany, this manufacturing of potatoes should be more profitable here.
The manufacture of alcohol from potatoes keeps the price of gasoline comparatively low in Europe."