Colorado committee partners on software

The Colorado Potato Administrative Committee has partnered with Agricultural Market Analytics to provide members with more shipping information.

“Right now, a potato buyer often has more information about the market than the supplier, so this system should be really valuable,” said Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the committee.

The software, called Face Forward, provides more real-time data on potato shipments and prices, he said.

“All of our growers will have access to the information, as well as any shippers that participate,” Ehrlich said.

The system is scheduled to be available in spring.


Potatoes marketing business updatesMarket Fresh Produce focuses on brands

Steve Phipps, owner of Market Fresh Produce, LLC, Nixa, Mo., says the company continues to focus on branded potatoes.

“We recently developed a full value-added line that is being well received,” Phipps said.

The company began rolling out the branded product during the past several months, with good results.

“It’s a competitive landscape because we weren’t first on the block, but we want to continue to be on this front side,” he said.

Phipps thinks branding is especially important for potatoes now that specialty varieties are taking up more of the shelf space.

“A lot of stores developed store brands, but it’s a little more difficult to do that with the volume array of specialty items, so some retailers will almost allow you to become their private brand if you have the right packaging and offerings,” he said.

Phipps said Market Fresh often is more willing to take on smaller projects, such as custom packaging or promotions, to which larger companies might be unable to devote time and energy.


MountainKing coins new term for fingerlings

MountainKing Potatoes, Monte Vista, Colo., is attempting to reinvent the fingerling potato with its new Steakhouse Roasters.

“In our research, we found consumers found the name ‘fingerling’ to be objectionable, and they weren’t sure what to do with the product,” said John Pope, vice president of sales and marketing.

The thin-skinned, tubular potatoes can be roasted to create a steakhouse-style wedge fry with no need to peel or fry, according to a news release.

The product has performed well in several outlets across the country but particularly in the Houston area, where targeted marketing efforts were used.

“Our goal ... is to work with chain store partners to help convince consumers to maybe switch from a frozen fry to a fresher alternative,” Pope said.

Our goal is a 5% trade-up rate, which would have significant lift potential for the total commodity,” Pope said.

The product is targeted at the 20-35 age group, and Pope suggests a high-graphic display with aggressive promotions.


Gehring Ag buys share in Pleasant Valley

Gehring Ag, one of the oldest and largest potato growing operations in Southeast Idaho, purchased a share in Pleasant Valley Potato Inc., Aberdeen, Idaho, and will grow fresh potatoes exclusively for the company, sales manager Ryan Wahlen said.

The transition took place in August after Ray Duffin, one of Pleasant Valley’s growers, retired with the desire to sell his share in the warehouse. Other growers took over the land so no acreage was lost.

In fact, acreage was gained with the addition of Gehring Ag.

“This is a huge addition for us,” Wahlen said. “Their quality of potatoes is fantastic, and the majority of their farm ground is in the Pleasant Valley area.”

In addition, Gehring will be able to deliver potatoes from the western side of the state, which will help fill in supply gaps, Wahlen said.

“We’ll be able to run much more steadily throughout the season, and we know we’ll have potatoes available for early harvest markets next year,” he said.