The Specialty Potato Alliance, formed in 2008, has become a competitive force in the industry, with distribution via a national network, director Richard Leibowitz said.
The alliance, which has headquarters in Mountainside, N.J., and offices in Los Angeles, was founded with a goal of consistent, year-round customer service.
“We have perfected our national distribution network,” Leibowitz said. “For three years running now we have been able to service our customers without missing an order.”
The group of growers and distributors — which originally included operations in California, Colorado and New Jersey — has grown to include Florida production.
As the alliance prepares for its second year in the Florida potato deal, Leibowitz said it continues to stress customer service.
Mark Pittenger, sales manager for the alliance, said the Florida program was very popular with East Coast customers last year.
“It reduced freight (costs) and allowed for more frequent pickups, keeping product fresher,” Pittenger said.
The alliance’s Florida deal will again focus on yellows in bulk, but Pittenger said the group also plans to offer limited retail production in 2013.
On the retail front, the alliance provides private labels as well as Specialty Potato Alliance-branded potatoes in a variety of pack sizes and styles.
Dale Firman, a founding member and head of the alliance’s West Coast operations, said the ability to pack as many as four varieties of proprietary fingerlings together has proven to be a strong selling point for the alliance.
“We can also provide specific sizes ranging from marble to large and jumbo,” Firman said.
Pack styles from the alliance include bags that restrict ultraviolet light penetration to help maintain the potatoes’ color. See-through plastic mesh backs allow the product to breathe and increase the shelf life of the potatoes.
The alliance product line includes organics as well as conventional potatoes.
Founding members include Los Angeles-based Coosemans Shipping and Culinary Specialty Produce, Mountainside, N.J.