Wal-Mart picks up Scottish spuds

06/13/2012 10:41:00 AM
Coral Beach

Courtesy Albert Bartlett & Sons Ltd.Packaging designs for Rooster brand potatoes to be sold in the U.S. are not yet available, but this package is familiar to consumers in the United Kingdom where Albert Bartlett & Sons Ltd. has been selling potatoes since 1948.Albert Bartlett’s Rooster brand potatoes will be available for the first time in the U.S. this fall at Wal-Mart stores through a partnership with MountainKing Potatoes.

Known in the United Kingdom since 1948, Albert Bartlett & Sons Ltd. has more than 80 potato growers in Scotland and offers a full line of varieties, including its branded Rooster, Apache and Purple Majesty potatoes.

The Roosters are described as “all-rounders” on the Albert Bartlett website, which states they have shallow eyes and “floury yellow flesh.” They will not be available at all Wal-Mart stores, but only in certain regions.

“We’ve been working on bringing the Rooster brand to the U.S. market for about four years,” said John Hicks, vice president of sales and marketing for Albert Bartlett. “We brought over tissue cultures and have been working with MountainKing."

Hicks came to the U.S. in January and is now based at Albert Bartlett’s new offices in Denver. He is working with Houston-based MountainKing on the joint potato venture. Hicks said Albert Bartlett is committed to using growers in the areas where their branded potatoes are sold.

The Scottish company recently entered the retail potato scene in The Netherlands and The Czech Republic with regional growers in those countries. Soon Albert Bartlett potatoes will be available in French supermarkets through a similar program that saw the Scottish company use its coveted potato tissue to launch growing operations in France.

Hicks said the owners of Albert Bartlett understand russets are the No. 1 potato in the U.S., but they believe American consumers will respond to their marketing efforts this fall when the red potatoes of the Rooster brand begin hitting shelves in Wal-Mart stores.

Albert Bartlett may eventually introduce its other varieties to the U.S. and other countries, but now only the Rooster potatoes are available outside the United Kingdom.

Hicks said consumer response to the Rooster potatoes will dictate when and where the company expands in the U.S. If the red potatoes prove popular enough Albert Bartlett could be in the market for additional growing partners. He declined to comment on the initial volumes anticipated this fall.



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Mike    
CA  |  June, 14, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Wal-Mart's decision to display a branded potato is very progressive as some of the new varieties being developed should be offered to the consumer as branded in order for them to recognize what they are consumming! My question is with all of the new and excellent varieties being grown domestically, WHY go to the UK to get a potato? These same types of varieties are being produced by local growers in a number of different states.

Coral Beach    
June, 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM

The Rooster potatoes to be sold by Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. are being grown in this country, not imported from the United Kingdom. Albert Bartlett & Sons Ltd. provided potato tissue to MountainKing Potatoes growers here in the U.S. Coral Beach Staff Writer

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