Potatoes Marketing Business Updates

Published online: Mar 12, 2018 Articles Tom Karst
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Source: The Packer

Alsum Farms Sees Strong Yellow Demand

Demand for yellow potatoes has been up the first part of 2018 compared with a year ago, says Doug Posthuma, buying manager and national salesman for Friesland, Wis.-based Alsum Farms.

Alsum Farms is sourcing from different growing regions and states, and quality has been a challenge for some regions, he says. Alsum Farms will market its own storage crop through the end of July. Posthuma says inventories of potatoes in late February were at normal levels, with no extra inventory weighing on the market.

Alsum Farms is marketing organic potatoes, which Posthuma says are enjoying stronger demand than in the past. In 2016, Alsum Farms & Produce Inc. introduced its 3-pound Gourmet Potato Pouch Pack, and that has found traction in some markets, Posthuma said.


APG Enjoys Promotable Reds, Yellows

Paul Dolan, general manager of Associated Potato Growers in Grand Forks, N.D., says the company has had good success with 5- and 3-pound bags of red potatoes this year compared with last year.

Dolan says buyers should anticipate a continuing good supply of reds and yellows at a promotable price.


Black Gold Promos Full Steam Ahead

Loosening transportation conditions have set the table for aggressive retail promotions, says Keith Goven, fresh sales manager for Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold Farms.

“For the month of December and early January, we didn’t want to put ourselves in a position to commit to ads and features we couldn’t support,” he says. “Now that transportation has loosened up a little bit, we have found our retail partners to be willing and excited to promote red potatoes, and they have come through in a big way for us.”

Goven also says quality has been strong out of storage.

Black Gold typically finishes up its Red River Valley red potatoes from early to mid-April and then transitions to its fresh crop in Texas.


MountainKing Promotes Crawfish Reds

Houston-based MountainKing Potatoes is bringing back its spring retail promotion for Crawfish B-Red potatoes, the variety specially grown and packaged for crawfish boils.

MountainKing’s “Crawfish Season is Here” promotion features high-graphic, 120-count display bins, display wraps and point-of-sale signs for the potatoes, according to a news release. The variety is available in 3-pound bags.

As part of the retail promotion, Mountain King will award an Apple Watch or iPad to the retailer with the highest percentage sales increase of the company’s 3-pound B-Reds to total potato sales for the period Feb. 15 to April 30, according to the release. District winners will earn $50 Bass Pro Shop gift cards.

The variety’s waxy texture and high moisture content help the potatoes maintain their shape after boiling, a plus for crawfish boils serving fresh potatoes and corn.

MountainKing salesman Andre Rohrman says potato movement has been brisk all season, with a steady migration of demand and promotion away from traditional varieties and toward more flavorful varieties.


Breeders Look at Glycemic Index

One of the areas of emphasis for potato breeders in North Dakota and others states is looking at specialty potatoes that register low on glycemic index, says Jerry Bergman, director of North Dakota State University’s Williston Research and Extension Center.

“There are a number of selections we are testing here, both with North Dakota State University and Montana State University,” he says.


Pleasant Valley Anticipates Promotable Volume

Promotable supply of russet potatoes and fingerling potatoes is available from Aberdeen, Idaho-based Pleasant Valley Potato, Inc.

Sales manager Ryan Wahlen says overall state supplies of potatoes are tighter than a year ago, but there will be plenty of promotion opportunities for the balance of the season.

Whalen said the company size profile for Russet Norkotah was smaller than a year ago, while the size profile for Russet Burbank was a little larger.


Potandon sees Klondike Rose Demand

Potandon Produce has seen very strong demand on variety potatoes the first six weeks of the year, says Ralph Schwartz, vice president of sales for the Idaho Falls, Idaho-based company.

“Our Klondike Rose demand has really jumped a lot this year,” he says. “We have actually had customers we’ve been trying to sell Klondike Rose to for 10 years and now, all of a sudden, they feel like they need to have it in their stores.”

Promotional activity also has increased. Market conditions appear stable to firm for russet count carton and consumer bags.

“I don’t anticipate the market declining at all,” says Schwartz. “By the end of the week, we are sold out on just about everything.”


RPE Reports Tasteful Selections Gains

Tasteful Selections, a specialty potato brand from Bancroft, Wis.-based Russet Potato Exchange Inc., launched its year-long Fresh campaign revolving around healthy, nutritious recipes and kitchen tips for more confident meal preparation, according to Tim Huffcutt, marketing director.

Each quarter features new recipes and related content to help amateur chefs create meals for their families, he says. Huffcutt says Tasteful Selections will continue its partnership with nutritionist and registered dietitian Cynthia Sass.

Sixteen of Sass’ gluten-free recipes will be available in a downloadable e-cookbook at www.tastefulselections.com. Over the course of the year, 50 recipes, videos and blogs will be released for the campaign.

Huffcutt says Tasteful Selections saw a 42 percent increase in bags of Sunburst Blend versus last year, with an increase in distribution and same-store sales. RPE also shows a 62 percent increase of 1.5-pound bags of Tasteful Selections’ Sunrise Medley potatoes versus last year, with an increase in distribution and same-store sales.

“Despite the smaller (U.S.) harvest and price inflation, category demand has seen promising growth, something we are all very excited to see again,” Huffcutt says.