Offutt Addresses Industry At WPC Kickoff Event

Published online: Aug 22, 2006
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Ron Offutt, CEO and founder of the R.D. Offutt Company spoke at the World Potato Congress Kickoff Event at the Julia Davis Municipal Park in Boise, ID. He shared with attendees how his organization was successful by taking production risks to fill voids within the market.

In the 1960s, he recognized that processors needed supply during the months of August and September when the industry was preparing to transition to new crop supplies. To fill this need, he altered farm management to plant and harvest earlier.

R.D. Offutt pioneered production under center pivot irrigation which was still in development during the '60s, and hadn't been universally accepted. He also recognized this era as being one in which the demand for processed potato products was increasing.

In 1978, Offutt built a fry processing plant in Grand Forks, ND, but later recognized that his organization was more adept in potato production. He later partnered with the Lamb Weston company to manage this facility.

In his address, Offutt credited the efforts of the United States Potato Board in communicating the potato nutrition message. He also emphasized the importance of the industry uniting to produce less potatoes more profitably.

Offutt paid special recognition to industry pioneers like Jack Simplot who was in attendance at the kickoff event and the McCains. He advised the industry to embrace GPS technologies that improve guidance and application in the field.

Concluding his remarks, he queried the audience about the future of the potato industry, openly wondering whether individual entrepreneurs or large corporations would chart the future direction. He concluded that he believed the future would be determined by a combination of the two.