Potandon Positions Itself as ‘the Healthy Potato Company’

Published online: Dec 18, 2018 Articles Rand Green
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Source: The Produce News 

The home page of Potandon Produce LLC's website now sports the trademarked slogan, “We are The Healthy Potato Company.”

It is not just an idle boast. According to Carter Bray, director of product marketing and development for Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Potandon, the company rolled out its new corporate positioning as the Healthy Potato Company a year ago and with that also introduced a new proprietary low-carbohydrate potato variety branded CarbSmart with 27 percent fewer carbohydrates per serving than standard potatoes and 55 percent fewer than rice or pasta.

Potatoes in general are “extremely healthy for you,” said Glen Reynolds, vice president of business development for Potandon. In particular, traditional potatoes are an excellent choice for active people who are looking for a performance diet. “They truly are.”

However, there are many people who are looking to reduce the amount of carbohydrates they consume in their diets and who feel they need to reduce their potato consumption or even cut potatoes out of their diet altogether. That is unfortunate, because they miss out on all of the other nutritional benefits of potatoes.

CarbSmart is “a healthy alternative to a regular potato when consumers are concerned about carbs,” he said. “It is a high-flavor product. It has a gold flesh and gold skin, and it is a great eating experience. It gives consumers who are concerned about carbs and have eliminated potatoes from their diet an opportunity to add potatoes back into the diet.”

There is more to come. “We realize that to move forward into the next decade, we need to offer as many healthy choices as possible for consumers,” Reynolds said. SunRain Varieties LLC, a Potandon subsidiary in Idaho Falls that develops potato varieties, is working to develop additional healthy alternatives to traditional russets for those who are looking to reduce the carbs in their diet.

Potandon is the largest supplier of table stock potatoes in the United States. The company sources potatoes from various growing regions around the country, but most of the production comes from the Northwest, specifically Idaho and Washington. In Idaho alone, the company ships potatoes from eight different packing sheds.

The company is also a major year-round supplier of onions, sourcing from various growing regions depending on the season.

While the company packs its products under various house labels and private labels, “the primary focus of Potandon is the Green Giant Fresh label,” according to Steve Elfering, vice president of operations.

With the 2018 harvest complete and in storage, Potandon’s Idaho potatoes were showing good quality, generally average yields and variable size, Elfering told The Produce Newson Oct. 30.

“From a quality standpoint, we have probably had one of our best harvests in quite some time,” he said There was “good maturity on the potatoes” with generally good harvesting temperatures.

In the Russet Norkotah crop, potatoes were running larger than average, so there will be “a lot of cartons,” he said.

In Idaho Burbanks, Elfering said he expects the average size to be somewhat smaller than historical averages, “but there is a really wide spectrum on size profiles.” Some lots are “very small” and some are “a little bit bigger” than average.

In specialty potatoes, sizing and yields in the company’s proprietary Klondike Rose and Klondike Goldust potatoes are about average this year, according to Gabe Boldt, variety potato manager. “The quality looks really good this year, so far,” and volume will be up a little on the reds due to a small increase in acreage.”

“The CarbSmart variety will be available in limited supplies this year and probably for the next couple of years due to restricted acreage. The demand for that product has been very good,” Elfering said. The reason for the limited availability is that it will take some time to build up the seed supply, he explained. All of the CarbSmart potatoes are being grown in Idaho.

Potandon’s russet growers in Washington enjoyed an “excellent harvest,” Elfering said. There was a good crop with larger than average size and better than average quality.

In Potandon’s specialty potatoes out of Washington, yields and size for the rose and gold potatoes were above normal, and quality is excellent, Boldt said.

Most of Potandon’s mini potatoes come from Washington with just a few out of Idaho, he said. The minis in storage in Washington that the company was currently running out of storage “look really good right now.”

“We are looking to have a really good season up there on the mini potato program,” Elfering added.

Potandon recently introduced a new value-added line called One Step … Done! consisting of one-pound of either red or yellow mini-potatoes and a patented seasoning disk in a patented two-chamber gusseted microwave bag.