Specialty potato market expands

12/04/2008 12:00:00 AM
Ashley Bentley

Size profile is low to B size, he said, and quality is good.

“Just getting retail to feature reds and price them competitively seems to be the best way to move our product,” Dolan said. “Sometimes retail wants to price our product higher than is warranted for what their costs are.”

Dolan said he sees quality as an opportunity to market Associated Potato Growers’ product this year.

Potandon Produce LLC, the exclusive marketer of Green Giant fresh potatoes and onions in North America, continues to expand its specialty line of Green Giant Klondike mini potatoes, which are packing in 24-ounce containers, said Dick Thomas, vice president of sales for the Idaho Falls, Idaho-based company. The line includes a red skinned yellow-fleshed potato, a yellow skinned yellow-fleshed potato and a purple skinned yellow-fleshed potato.

“We continue to see the market for specialty variety potatoes expanding,” Thomas said. “In response to this trend, we have expanded our acreage of both our proprietary varieties of Klondike Rose, Klondike Goldust, our mini potato line, as well as conventional red potatoes. The company supports the lines with point-of-sale materials and recipe cards.

The company also offers organic russets in the Green Giant brand and private labels.

“This enables our customers to fill their organic needs along with their conventional potato needs from one supplier,” Thomas said.

Stanger said russet demand is flat, while demand for fingerlings and yellows are growing. Wada Farms grows potatoes and onions in Idaho, but also markets for product on Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Washington.

Value added

The company also markets Easy Steamers, a bag of triple-washed smaller potatoes that, once steamed, can be eaten as baked potatoes or mashed.

“We started them at the end of last season, and are continuing them this season with a year-round program,” Stanger said. The Easy Steamers come in yellows, reds and russets.

Russet Potato Exchange, Bancroft, Wis., markets a triple-washed potato packaged in foil for easy grilling, said Tim Feit, director of promotions and consumer education for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Inc., Antigo.

Matt Glowczewski, a salesman for Canon Potato Co., Center, Colo., said he thinks value-added products may suffer this year.

“Right now, I think value-added is a back shelf item,” he said. “People aren’t looking to spend more money.”



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