ByDavid Mitchell, The Grower
Black Gold Farms bills itself as the nation's largest supplier of chip potatoes, but the Grand Forks, N.D.-based company is expanding its volume of fresh potatoes.
"We've grown to service the needs of our customers," salesman Keith Groven said.
Black Gold started growing fresh red potatoes in North Dakota two years ago, giving the company a year-round supply of fresh potatoes.
The company also ships fresh potatoes from Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Texas.
Although Black Gold had fresh supplies from North Dakota, it didn't have a packing shed there until this year.
Black Gold purchased a storage facility in Grand Forks and has upgraded the facility to include a wash line, polisher, grader, sizer and packing options for totes, sacks and cartons.
The company previously trucked its fresh potatoes as unwashed bulk product from North Dakota to its Arbyrd, Mo., packing facility.
"That limited our viable sales area to the southeast," Groven said. "It didn't make sense to ship them to Missouri and then go back north again.
"This opens additional markets to us. We are able to increase availability geographically and produce a better product. It works better to wash at the source," he said.
Groven said the North Dakota facility has storage capacity for 500,000 cwt.
He said the facility does not yet have capabilities for poly bags, but the company can provide that product from its Missouri operation.