Eagle Eye: Organic Demand Increasing

Published online: Dec 13, 2018 Articles
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Source: The Produce News 

As a premier grower, packer and shipper of Idaho potatoes, Eagle Eye Produce relies on its fleet of temperature-controlled trucks to ship nationwide from several locations to cater to its customers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California, Colorado and Texas, shipping more than a billion pounds of fresh produce a year.

“We grow, pack, and ship much more than just potatoes and onions, but potatoes and onions are our largest commodity,” said Lance Poole, vice president of sales for the Idaho Falls, Idaho-based company. “We grow over 25,000 acres of fresh produce and fruit from Idaho to Mexico and across most of the western United States.”

Eagle Eye Produce is also one of the larger organic potato growers and shippers in Idaho. 

“We had one of the first year-round supplies in premium red and yellow potatoes,” Poole said. “We have invested in the latest packing, growing and shipping technology to meet our customers’ needs, meaning our customers can get all potato and onion SKUs on their shelves supplied direct from the source.”

Overall, demand in potatoes and onions remains very stable for the company, while demand for organic and convenient options continue to rise with the new generations. 

“Our innovative line of microwave-ready potatoes is doing well, and is continuing to see growth,” Poole said. “We are also finding that our bite-size, baby potatoes are in high demand, and this year we have increased our supply to meet that demand.”

As for crops, the potato crops so far are good, but nationally, Poole has some concerns due to an early frost that could play a factor in how potatoes store for the season.

“But we feel confident in our supply,” he said. “Our onion yields are great, and the quality is great. This year we invested in new storage technology which we are anticipating will increase our overall supply and quality for the year.” 

Eagle Eye is noticing a trend towards smaller, more convenient packaging. Poole credits this to the fact that younger generations usually don’t buy bulk and they usually don’t like to store potatoes for long. 

“In the past few years, we have invested largely in providing value with our packaging,” he said. “For example, we provide steam bags and microwaveable trays of potatoes. We are trying to provide simple meal solutions to our customers while also not forgetting the customers who do buy bulk and store potatoes for long periods of time.”

Business at Eagle Eye in 2018 saw shipments increase though supplies decreasing. The company anticipates that the markets will gain steam after the first of the year and it’s already looking like there will be a tight supply in the summer, which should lead to healthy markets.

“To be a success in these areas takes many years of practice, dedication and refinement,” Poole said. “We have over 20 years of experience in the potato and onion market, and over those years we have found that you need to stay innovative. We are constantly looking for ways to improve growing, packing and shipping processes. We need to be able to keep costs down while providing a ‘one-stop shop’ in a sense for our customers.”

Additionally, the company knows that now more than ever, it needs to be more personal by giving customers the added value of simple recipes, pairing ideas and grower stories as customers like to see the face behind the brand.

“The latest buzz in our company is our value-add line of products,” Poole said. “We grow, pack and ship refrigerated cut potatoes with butter and spices, as well as steam packs and microwaveable potato trays. Retailers are looking for ways to present value to their customers and we believe we have the simple meal solutions that today’s customers are looking for.”

For the year ahead, Eagle Eye will continue to innovate its production lines and increase its output levels and the quality of its commodities.

“We have also taken on new talent within the company with bright ideas and new ways to simplify and innovate our internal processes,” Poole said. “Therefore, 2019 is looking to be a very promising year for Eagle Eye Produce.”