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Tiyapuy and the silent revolution of the native potato in Peru
Tuesday, July 9, 2024 - 11:30
Fuente: Tiyapuy

The Andean snack brand born in the COVID-19 pandemic offers a proposal that has crossed borders under the slogan of revaluing healthy eating and the work of small farmers.

It is one of the most widespread and consumed foods worldwide. Since its domestication in the Peruvian Andes millennia ago, the potato plays a key role in numerous cuisines, as well as in snacks , perhaps its most famous derived products. The classic white or golden flakes are valued for their flavor and consistency; However, they do not represent the entire existing universe.

By May 2024, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognizes more than 5,000 varieties of the well-known tuber. Most are exclusive to the Andes, where they abound with different colors, shapes, tastes, among other qualities.

We are talking about native potatoes, a set of subspecies that seek to be claimed by Tiyapuy, a Peruvian brand of Andean snacks . It was founded in 2020 by Carlos Añaños, a businessman with experience in the beverage industry and a native of Ayacucho, a department in the central mountains of Peru.

Under the motto Seed of The World , Añaños raised Tiyapuy as a tribute to the native potato as the base food of ancient Peruvians and the modern world. It should be noted that all the tubers used by the company are grown in the high areas of Ayacucho and surrounding regions, in order to take advantage of various thermal levels and microclimates.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a branding concept was worked on to position native potatoes as “jewels.” Well, apart from being worthy of appreciation, their presence on farmland that is difficult to access makes their exploitation a challenge.

Although today, with a growing presence in the Peruvian market and incursions into Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom, Tiyapuy seems on track to honor the meaning of its name in Quechua: “it has everything.” But there are still pending objectives and opportunities to take advantage of. And to find out, we spoke with Rafael De Córdova, CEO of Tiyapuy.

“We were born to value the work of the Upper Andean farmer. That small farmer who has two hectares, who generally planted native potatoes for self-consumption, sometimes even to feed his livestock. But since Tiyapuy appears, that farmer from Ayacucho or Huancavelica now has a client to sell his potatoes to. They join together through groups or associations and come with trucks to deliver their native potatoes to us. There is a silent revolution around this concept,” declared De Córdova for AméricaEconomía .

In 2020, while the coronavirus was getting out of control, in addition to doctors, the Tiyapuy team identified small farmers as the “hidden heroes” of the pandemic. Well, in the midst of the crisis, the farmers did not stop supplying potatoes to the cities. Rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and carbohydrates, the potato is the protagonist in balanced diet manuals, which is why the company decided to create the new line of snacks with a healthy approach.

To achieve his goal, Tiyapuy decided to implement high oleic sunflower oil, a variety low in saturated fats imported from Eastern Europe, as well as Maras salt, from Cusco (Peru). This combination of natural ingredients allows the brand to dispense with octagons, those warnings for excess fat or sugar, which predominate in many foods from Peru, Chile and other countries. And although along the way, there were important obstacles such as the war in Ukraine, which increased the price of sunflower oil from this country, Tiyapuy has found its niche in the Peruvian market.

“We have a healthy snack . That is the first differentiation. But it also has a unique value proposition: taking care of the health of the final consumer, but maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. Because since native potatoes are organic, they are free of chemicals or any treatment that is not natural,” says De Córdova.

This differentiation is consolidated if we take into account that native potatoes are usually endemic to the Peruvian mountains, which generates ample possibilities for Tiyapuy to be identified with the country brand. One of the varieties most used in snacks are “cacho de toro” potatoes, with black skin and purple flesh. It is mixed with other potatoes, which include pink and reddish tones inside.


As he gained ground in Peru, Tiyapuy's ambition to cross international borders led to a new plan. The first phase involved achieving a 100% presence in the modern channel of its home country.

In other words, Andean snacks were present in those stores that mass market products and where consumers have free access to a wide range of goods. In the food sector, this includes supermarkets and convenience stores. Beyond native potatoes, Tiyapuy offers other eye-catching initiatives such as quinoa, sweet potato and chifles (fried banana flakes) snacks .

The next step was to target the markets of nearby countries with consumer profiles similar to the Peruvian one. Thus, in the last four years, Tiyapuy has expanded to Colombia, Bolivia, El Salvador and Guatemala.

“But the starting point of the internationalization strategy and where we started last year is Mexico. Why this market? Because it is between eight to ten times larger than the Peruvian snack market ,” describes the brand's CEO.

Although this is not the only reason: Mexico is the proposed platform for Tiyapuy to expand to the west coast of the United States and thus profit from the demand of the Latin American community and curious Americans. They want to replicate the success of the brand's arrival in supermarkets in New Jersey, home to a large community of Peruvians.

De Córdova is optimistic about international expansion, because he believes that purchasing packaging with Andean decorations and featuring colored potatoes is attractive enough for the foreign public.

“In addition, we have presented commemorative potato cans and tubes. Our hope is that when someone visits our country they take these presentations as souvenirs . And let them say: “I took the jewel of Peru.” We want Tiyapuy to be part of the country's tourist experience,” says De Córdova.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Tiyapuy has also begun to forge roots. In the United Kingdom, the brand already has a distributor and has already signed an alliance with Promperú, the tourism promotion body of the Peruvian State, to promote snacks on British soil. While on the European continent, the products are already exported to countries such as Spain, France and recently, Switzerland.

“I have had the opportunity to promote native potatoes at fairs in the United Kingdom and the British find it incredible that there are colored potatoes and ask us what dyes we use. When they discover that it is a natural color, they see it as a novelty that encourages them to try and differentiate the flavor of those from the Netherlands, Belgium or Ireland,” says the Tiyapuy manager.

On the other hand, for the snacks to reach their final destination in a Peruvian store or a European fair, blockchain technology is launched . In the words of his manager, Tiyapuy uses a model that allows detecting or recording the moment in which a potato was planted and harvested.

The data collected includes who planted the plant and when it was produced. To access this information, a QR code is used, which is marked on the back of the product label. De Córdova asserts that this system is carried out for organizational reasons, but also seeks to recognize the work of each farmer.


But one thing is almost certain: Tiyapuy's current position in Peru would not be the same without an incident that occurred at the beginning of 2024. On January 29, the multinational PepsiCo plant, located in the Lima district of Santa Anita, suffered the detachment of a water tank. This fact and the deaths of three workers as a consequence, forced the company to suspend the production of popular snacks such as Doritos, Cheese Trees and Papas Lay's.

As the weeks passed, the company decided to import these products from its factories in Ecuador and Colombia to meet demand. But the void left in the Peruvian market has been great and local brands have benefited the most. Although Rafael De Córdova admits that Tiyapuy sales have grown since then, he considers that the most valuable thing about this period is that more consumers were encouraged to try healthy snacks , to the detriment of traditional proposals.

“We want to show that eating healthy also means eating delicious. This means that we have had the opportunity for more users to try the native potato and thanks to this, our sales were able to grow in double digits throughout the first half of the year. But above all, I recognize that this momentum has been seen more in the second quarter, to the point that we grew more than 20% compared to the first quarter,” celebrates De Córdova.

Among the brand's newest developments is the opening of its industrial plant in Lurín, on the outskirts of Lima, under an investment of US$ 15 million. It is an infrastructure project that will allow it to double the production achieved in 2023 and thus alleviate the effects of the recession that afflicts the Peruvian economy.

Regarding Tiyapuy's innovative products, the line of organic coffee stands out, coming from the VRAEM, a region of the Peruvian high jungle, sadly famous for incursions of terrorism and drug trafficking. As in the case of native potatoes, coffee growers receive market access, better purchasing rates and in exchange, are required to deliver the best beans: 86 cup points or more.

More recently, there is the line of pre-fried native potatoes, launched on May 31 in the middle of International Potato Day. It is a product destined for hotels and restaurants, which incredibly used to import 85% of potatoes ready to fry. Why are these figures given in the country where “the seed of the world” was born?

“Simply, because imported potatoes have a more competitive price than ours. They handle regional volumes and large-scale technology. And second, there was not much availability of the native Peruvian potato, because our yields are lower per hectare,” explains De Córdova. In this way, Tiyapuy makes its way into new areas as part of the path of a brand that seeks to position on the map a food that is both known and unknown to the average human being.


Sergio Herrera Deza