Business updates: Potatoes Marketing - The Packer

Business updates: Potatoes Marketing

12/10/2010 10:54:37 AM
Cynthia David

Associated Potato Growers installs grader

Associated Potato Growers Inc., one of the largest fresh red potato packing cooperatives in the Midwest, has added a grader-sorter — the third of its kind — to its operation.

“We now have these machines in all three of our plants,” said Paul Dolan, general manager of the Grand Forks, N.D.-based company. “They make the plants more efficient and allow us to give more consistent quality to our customers.”

LED lighting pregrades potatoes by color, he said, so the role of the human sorters at the end of the line becomes one of fine-tuning.

The demand for small consumer packs, mostly 5-pound, continues to grow, said Dolan, along with the demand for private labeling.

Cohn Farms to bring parisiennes to the U.S.

A grower, packer and processor in Ontario’s Holland Marsh plans to introduce the U.S. market to his small round parisienne potatoes.

"We’re producing 120,000 pounds a week,” said Larry Cohn, president of Cohn Farms, “but we could easily triple our capacity.”

The perfect rounds, roasted until golden, are now a familiar sight in Loblaws and No Frills supermarket deli counters in Ontario, where they’re sold with roast chicken.

Cohn offers a 22-pound bag for foodservice and institutions.

Cohn began selling 1-pound bags of parisiennes at retail a year ago, and now sells about 20,000 a month, he said.

F.W. Ward expands foodservice business

An excellent crop and new equipment in its rebuilt plant in the Saguenay Lac St.-Jean region of northern Quebec have allowed Montreal-based potato grower, packer and shipper F.W. Ward to expand into foodservice and increase exports.

“We can now do any pack imaginable, in any format,” said president Patrick Peschlow. “We also have special cleaning techniques and a new count line that uses electronic and laser technology so we can deliver a box to foodservice with every potato the same size.”

The company’s aggressive marketing in the northeast U.S. and the Caribbean has led to a dramatic rise in exports, he said, much faster than sales to Quebec retailers.

Farm Fresh Direct to introduce fingerlings

The Express Bake potato, which launched a category in 2001, is adding a new microwaveable product to its line.

Express Bake’s fingerling medley, 14 ounces of red, yellow and purple fingerling potatoes in a shrink-wrapped, compostable and microwaveable tray, is being considered by three retailers in the Midwest, Southeast and west, said general manager Tim Wall of Farm Fresh Direct in Monte Vista, Colo.

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