Potandon, Sunspiced merge

05/17/2002 12:00:00 AM
Todd Foltz

(May 17) IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Potandon Produce LLC, the exclusive North American marketer of Green Giant Fresh potatoes and onions, will double its volume thanks to the sales force merger of two of the nation’s largest potato and onion companies.

Beginning June 1, Potandon will become the sales agent for Blackfoot-based Idaho Fresh Cooperative, which does business as Sunspiced of Idaho. Sunspiced of Idaho, a grower-owned cooperative in Southeast Idaho with about 70 grower members, also acquired an undisclosed ownership interest in Potandon.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed when it was announced May 16. But under the deal, Potandon will employ Sunspiced of Idaho’s sales, customer service and accounting employees. There will be a transition period, but those Sunspiced of Idaho employees will begin working from Potandon’s Idaho Falls offices.

“This is a big merger,” said Loraine Driscoll, president of Sunspiced of Idaho. “The Potandon and Sunspiced merger is dramatically the largest potato marketing company in North America.”

Potandon will handle sales for Sunspiced of Idaho after the merger and will continue to pack and sell all existing labels shipped by Sunspiced of Idaho and Potandon. That includes the Green Giant Fresh label licensed to Potandon as well as Sunspiced and Tepee, two brands that had been licensed to Sunspiced of Idaho by Basic American Foods, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Potandon also said it plans to expand its private-label packing after the merger.

Since August 2000, Sunspiced Inc., a Blackfoot-based company doing business as Sunspiced USA, handled national marketing for the unrelated Sunspiced of Idaho/Idaho Fresh Cooperative.

A subsidiary of Basic American Foods, Sunspiced Inc. closed its Moses Lake, Wash., packing shed last year shortly after launching a marketing and sales agreement with Basin Gold Marketing Cooperative, Pasco, Wash. Basin Gold, founded in 1994, is made up of four of the owners of Potandon.

The phone number for Sunspiced Inc.’s Independence, Mo., sales office was no longer in service May 16. Rich Riley of Sunspiced Inc. and representatives of Basic American Foods could not be reached for comment May 16, but reportedly Basic American Foods plans to absorb the employees of its Sunspiced Inc. subsidiary.

GOOD FOR BOTH

Jeff Sholl, president of The Sholl Group II, a Minneapolis-based company that owns the rights to Green Giant Fresh brand for produce other than potatoes and onions, said the sales force merger between Potandon and Sunspiced of Idaho/Idaho Fresh Cooperative was good for both companies.


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