Michel Mes, managing director/CEO, Belgian Fries and Friitz, has been a consultant on the Belgium method of making fries for 20 years.
“I preach the ‘gospel’ of Belgium fries. I know a lot about its history and the different machines worldwide,” Mes told FoodProductionDaily.
Branding a vending machine by Beyondte Technology in Shenzhen, China, which was bought by Breaktime Solutions, in Belgium, a failure, he said it was a bad idea to put an automatic frying machine in the country.
“It is the biggest stupidity one can make. We have 5,000 plus fry shops in this country so if you want fries there is a place on every corner. No-one here would even think about buying fries from a vending machine because no-one can make them like the fries we have here," he added.
“The biggest mistake people make is to assume a product like this is easy money. A get rich quick scheme. It’s not easy to set up a business but if you want to do it, you have to do it yourself and it’s hard work.
“A vending machine is a cheap product. It might be a hype for one or two years but then it fails unless you have the capacity to grow to become a big chain like McDonald’s but that’s impossible.
“The Beyondte Technology machine in Belgium was operational for a mere four weeks and then removed. Technical problems and almost no sales were the reason. Also, this is not the first French Fries machine in the world: the first one was introduced in 1965, many others followed but they all failed.”
Not a commercial success
Tuline Bey, CEO, Breaktime Solutions, said the company decided not to commercialize the Beyondte Technology machine.
“With new objectives and quality standards, we decided to develop an unparalleled machine which can work on beef fat or oil,” she said.
Beyondte Electronics specializes in R&D and the manufacturing of computer metal peripherals and self-help equipment.
It claimed to have produced the World’s first French fries vending machine (FFVM) and the FFVM2, which has a light box for advertising.
“The product will stand out in places like a subway station or side street (kerb appeal) because it is a unique concept which is different to anything else on the market.” said Richard Jiang, sales manager, Beyondte.
The machine allegedly takes 95 seconds from when the consumer puts their coins into the utility to receive a box of fries through an opening at the bottom.
It cooks the product using vegetable oil and beef fat, built inside the technology.
“The way we make Belgium fries is totally different in a lot of ways compared to other fast food snacks,” said Mes.
Research and money
“Depending on the country, we have special machines which are round and there are various sizes of machines.
“People come to me to get information on where to find the best machinery, where to source the best potatoes, what sort of oil do they need to use and it can potentially save manufacturers a lot of time, research and money.”
“The French fries vending machine uses frozen or pre fried products and there are issues with the types of oil and ventilation. It’s only for people who don’t care about quality. A lot of companies try and fail.”
Beyondte Technology was unavailable for comment.