Big, 10-pound bags of red potatoes are on their way out, but there doesn’t seem to be a trend towards any particular pack replacing them, Red River Valley potato shippers say.
The 10-pound bag is almost gone, said David Moquist, partner and sales manager at O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc., Crystal, N.D. Most red potatoes in supermarkets now are packed in 5-pound bags, and many B-size potatoes are packed in 3-pound bags.
Paul Dolan, general manager at Associated Potato Growers Inc., Grand Forks, N.D., said buyers continue to seek private-label packaging, but preferred pack sizes vary with retailer. While some chains prefer 5-pound poly bags, others are beginning to use more private-label “combo bags” made of half poly and half mesh.
Mesh bags are more expensive, so a combo bag can provide a mesh look at a lower cost, he said.
Steve Tweten, president and sales manager, NoKota Packers Inc., Buxton, N.D., also said the trend in packaging is packing in whatever type of pack customers want.
Some red potato packaging promotes the use of red potatoes as bakers.
Associated Potato’s own bags promote reds as bakers, but most of its volume is shipped in private-label bags, only some of which promote baking reds, Dolan said.
Last season, Campbell Farms, Grafton, N.D., introduced a 5-pound grab-and-bake bag of red potatoes, but it wasn’t successful enough to bring back this season, said Tom Campbell, co-owner and sales manager.
“It didn’t take off the way we thought,” he said.
Although there were some customers for the bag, there wasn’t enough volume to make it worthwhile to pack. The bag was mesh with a handle on top. It promoted the red potato specifically as an alternative to the russet for baking.
The individually wrapped red baking potato didn’t take off, either.
Campbell Farms offered individually wrapped 8-ounce red potatoes last season, but it will not market them this year, Campbell said.
Dolan said Associated Potato experimented internally with using a microwaveable wrap for red potatoes but determined there wasn’t a distinct difference in the quality of a microwaved wrapped potato.
“We didn’t find any advantage as far as wrapped or not wrapped,” Dolan said.