Fresh-cut/Value-added business updates

03/08/2012 11:50:00 AM
Cynthia David

The other challenge in the 2-ounce program is maintaining the shelf life of 40-50 items in tiny bags, usually packaged 80 to a box.

"Some items don’t do well in small bags," Testa said. "They’re more susceptible to temperature variations than a bigger bag would be and can heat up quickly."

Despite the snags, Testa remains enthusiastic about the program.

"There’s a huge win here if you get this program to work in all the schools," he said.

"Get kindergarten and first-grade kids eating raspberries, blueberries, grapes and apples, and you’ll have them for their entire life."

 

Wada Farms sees sweet spud sales surge

Sweet potatoes are proving a sweet seller for Wada Farms.

"Volumes are starting to pick up and become measurable," said Kevin Stanger, owner and vice president sales and marketing at Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Wada Farms Marketing Group.

Stanger said restaurants such as Texas Roadhouse are now serving sweet potatoes along with baked potatoes, which is encouraging consumers to try them at home.

While most retailers want smaller sizes, Stanger said Wada has found great acceptance for its individually wrapped jumbo sweet potatoes, currently rolling out across the country.

Sales of fingerlings, petites and other specialty potatoes enjoyed in restaurants are also gaining followers.

"It’s not moving at the pace of bagged salads," Stanger said, "but specialty items are coming along."

Sales of value-added 1-pound microwavable bags of red, russet and yellow potatoes have increased considerably over the last few years, he said.

"The biggest factor is convenience," Stanger said. "Quality has to be a given, or it isn’t going to move. You can grab a roast chicken, a bag of salad and a loaf of French bread, microwave a hot potato side item in eight minutes and have dinner on the table in 10.

"And it’s all fresh."


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