Some of the Wisconsin potato news from the past year, from The Packer’s archives:

RPE Inc. holds consumer contest

June 25

To increase overall potato sales, RPE Inc. plans a consumer sweepstakes this fall using its branded Tasteful Selections specialty potatoes.

The contest is set for September through November. It will use Facebook and retail display materials to drive consumer participation, according to a news release from Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE. A retail display contest is planned to encourage store managers to promote the contest.

Russell Wysocki, RPE vpresident and chief executive officer, said in the release the promotion allows RPE to connect with consumers while helping retail partners improve category performance.

Contest seeks flavorful recipes

Oct. 17, 2011

A consumer recipe contest sponsored by RPE Inc. is under way, with the goal of raising brand awareness for the company’s Tasteful Selections line of pre-washed baby potatoes.

The Simply Amazing Flavors recipe contest runs through the end of October on the brand’s Facebook page at Selections. The consumer who submits the winning recipe will receive a year’s supply of Tasteful Selections. Runners-up will earn $100 and $50 gift cards. Recipes will be featured on the website.

Russell Wysocki, president and chief executive officer of RPE, said in a news release that the contest is being promoted through the blogging community to increase awareness about the products.

Okray promotes staff to manager

July 18, 2011

Mark Finnessy has joined management at Plover, Wis.-based Okray Family Farms, said Dick Okray, co-owner.

Finnessy, the son of Okray Family Farms sales manager Mike Finnessy, starting working at the company two years ago, Okray said.

Future managers at the company first work in the fields, followed by stints in the plant and warehouse, before joining the sales desk, Okray said.

One of Mark Finnessy’s duties will be to help coordinate Okray Family Farms’ third-party food safety audits, Okray said.

Also new at the company, Okray Family Farms has installed two new scrubbing washers.

So far, the reviews have been good.

“People tell us the potatoes look cleaner and brighter,” Okray said.

Russet crop slightly delayed

July 18, 2011

Wisconsin potato grower-shippers say everything is on track for a high-quality, normal-sized 2011 russet crop.

It just will take a little longer than usual to arrive.

The Wisconsin russet crop likely won’t start shipping until about Aug. 18-19, five to seven days later than the five-year average, estimates Bob Johnson, president of Katz Produce Sales LLC, Plover, Wis.

“I can’t recall them starting much later than that,” Johnson said.

Other leading spud-producing states also are expecting late starts to the 2011-12 season, Johnson said.

That could raise the specter of volumes piling up when the first autumn frosts hit, possibly jeopardizing some storage spuds, Johnson said.

That scenario would be more likely if retailers continue to price spuds high, even after new-crop harvests get under way.

Wisconsin potato prices were in the low $20s for 50-pound cartons of 40-70s russet norkotahs in early July, about double what they were last year at the same time.