Potato and onion grower-shipper RPE Inc. has introduced a new line of organic potatoes that are misshapen or have minor skin blemishes.
The Oddball Organics line from Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE was created to reduce waste and provide value to customers in the company’s fast-growing organic category, said Kevin Wright, vice president of new product development.
In the past year, organic potato acreage has increased 81% among RPE’s growers, Wright said.
“With the increase in demand for organics and the push for more sustainable methods, we expect this positive trend to grow. Continued organic growth is expected in the future.”
Initial response to Oddball Organics, Wright said, has been good.
“Customers’ reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. The program may not fit for every customer, but it’s been well-received by most.”
Oddball Organics are available in varieties including russets, reds and golds, and packed in 3-pound poly bags, mesh bags, bulk and display-ready cartons.
RPE spent a year developing the program, Wright said. Since the company already was a certified organic packer, no significant additions to its packing line needed to be made, other than the addition of a specific line to direct the product during the grading process.
RPE doesn’t have an Oddball program for conventional potatoes, Wright said, but that could change.
“All options are being explored for future growth.”
A similar percentage of RPE’s organic and conventional potatoes are misshapen or have blemishes, he said.
Other companies have begun marketing imperfect produce recently.
In July, Independent Grocers Alliance announced it was offering six “odd-looking” Quebec-grown vegetables and fruits for six weeks in 290 stores throughout the province.
Also this year, Santa Paula, Calif.-based Limoneira Co. introduced Lemon Misfits, a line of wind-scarred lemons.
And in 2014, Canadian greenhouse grower-shipper Red Hat Cooperative Ltd. introduced its Misfits line of misshapen cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and eggplants.