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Red River Valley Potatoes

Red River Valley potato shippers listen to consumers, go with smaller packages

More and more, consumers are ignoring the 10-pound bags of red potatoes and instead picking up smaller, more convenient sizes, grower-shippers say.

The smallest pack is the individually wrapped microwaveable 8-ounce red baker from Campbell Farms, Grafton, N.D., which the company began selling last year.

Now, Campbell Farms also has a new grab-and-bake 5-pound mesh and film bag with a handle for red potatoes. The pack is designed to get consumers to try baking red potatoes.

Although consumers typically buy russets for baking, Tom Campbell, co-owner and sales manager of Campbell Farms, said red potatoes more moist. The bags are designed to educate buyers about baking reds. They also take advantage of consumer preference for small packages.

“Generally there is a trend to smaller bags,” Campbell said.

Campbell Farms now packs fewer10-pound bags and more 3- and 5-pound bags, he said.

“People are making more trips to the grocery store and buying for one or two days instead of for a week,” Campbell said.

Campbell Farms also packs creamer potatoes in 28-ounce plastic clamshells, but that package is not popular, Campbell said.

“I’m not sure why,” he said. “I think some (buyers) are doing it (packing clamshells) themselves with their own labels.”

Paul Dolan, general manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc., Grand Forks, N.D., also said the trend is toward more 3- and 5-pound bags and fewer 10-pound bags.

Although his company doesn’t pack creamers, he’s noticed more of them in 1.5- and 2-pound bags for retail.

Associated Potato offers 5- and 10-pound mesh bags, but Dolan said it packs very few of those. The industry isn’t willing to shell out the added expense for those, he said. A more economical option is a half-poly, half-mesh bag. It’s available in 3-, 5- and 10-pound sizes.

Other packing options at Associated Potato include 3,- 4-, 5-, 8-, 10-, 15- and 20-pound poly bags, 50-pound cartons and vented paper bags, 100-pound burlap bags and 2,000-pound tote bags.

Rodney Olson, principle owner of shipper Ben Holmes Potato Co. Inc., Becker, Minn., said his company packs more small packs for consumers than it used to. Now 5- and 10-pound bags are more common.

Ted Kreis, marketing and communications manager, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, East Grand Forks, Minn., said the trend toward smaller packages has been happening for years.

“I think the 20-pound bag is almost extinct,” he said. “The 10-pound bag is continuing to lose market share to 5-pound bags, and eventually the 10-pound bag will probably not be available.”


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