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The value of “line flow” French fries

Q: I can save nearly ten dollars a case by switching to “line flow” French fries, it sounds like a good idea, what do you think?
A: With the downturn in the economy a lot of restaurant operators are looking for ways to save money.  This isn’t a wise one, even though it seems perfectly logical.  The plus side is that if you buy line flow fries you are saving on the carton cost but it is offset by the minuses.Fry Scale PictureShorter fries.  Let me repeat that, line flow means you get a lot more shorter French fries.  Shorter fries end up costing you money because you’ll use more potatoes to fill up the same bag, cup, container or plate.  The easiest way to explain this is to take a 1 pound package of dry spaghetti noodles and divide it in half; then place half in a tall glass so they stick out of the top. Now take the other half and break the pasta into 3 or 4 pieces so that there are a lot of short ones and fill a similar size glass.  Which one looks full?Shorter fries mean more outside surfaces to absorb the oil when cooking. So, the money you can easily measure (cost per bag or carton of potatoes) gets replaced by the unknown of “how much more oil will I end up using?”Here’s how the French fry grading system works for 1/4" Shoestrings:Grade Strips are measured as over 3" Strips, Under 2" strips, and Slivers & ShortsPXLF (Premium Extra Long Fancy) over 3" Minimum 35%,  Under 2" Maximum 17%  and Slivers & Shorts Maximum 5%LF (Long Fancy) over 3" Minimum 20%,  Under 2" Maximum 25%,  and Slivers & Shorts Maximum 10%FA (Line Flow)Under 2" Maximum 40%So, when you buy line flow you are guaranteed short fries.  And, usually a premium fry will have higher solids too.  Line flow fries are processed leaving a lot of moisture in the fry.  You pay for more water than fries.All of our Idaho potato processors have terrific tools on their web sites to illustrate the advantages of buying a premium fry over line flow or low solids fries.Remember, you make profits on the number of servings you sell, not on the price you pay per pound.