Alsum bets smaller bins will move more spuds

08/09/2013 02:43:00 PM
David Mitchell

A standard potato bin can hold up to 200 5-pound bags, but Alsum Farms & Produce Inc. is working on the theory that less is more.

The Friesland, Wis., company has introduced three high-graphic bins that take up one-fourth the space of a traditional bin. That means retailers can display four products on one pallet or they can use the smaller bins to merchandise product in small spaces outside the produce department.

“The key to this is versatility,” said director of sales and marketing Rick Kantner. “You can merchandise in a small space or a different department. For example, you could have specialty potatoes near the eggs as part of a breakfast solution. Or Grillers make sense in the meat department near the steaks.”

Grillers are the company’s pre-washed, individually foil-wrapped russets that come in four-count tray packs. One of the new bins, designed specifically for displaying Grillers, looks like a gas grill. It holds up to 36 tray packs.

All three of the new bins are 23½ by 19¾ by 35¾ inches. A specialty bin can hold up to 72 creamer or steamer bags.

Kantner said the cardboard bins can be shipped preloaded, or they can be assembled at stores.

Meanwhile, Alsum has completed a 55,000-square-foot addition to its Friesland facility that includes office space and a packing shed expansion.

Kantner said the company has added three lines in order to increase capacity for packing specialty potatoes.

“It’s so we can segment our business,” he said. “We can keep moving russets without switching back and forth. We can increase output and efficiency.”

Kantner said in late July that the new lines were expected to be up and running by mid-September. The new equipment is expected to increase output by at least 20% in the first year, he said.

The new lines also include robotics that load and wrap pallets.

“It’s faster and saves labor,” Kantner said. “What we’re looking for is efficiency by reduced labor and more output.”



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