GHQ FOCUS ON FRESH
presented on the shelf, the purchase plan could change course for many
shoppers, observers say.
“Beyond taste, which is always the No. 1 attribute that consumers
are looking for, most of the other features revolve around quality,” says
Rob Myers, director of sales and marketing at J.R. Simplot Co., based
in Boise, Idaho. “Black spot bruise is still the top consumer complaint.
Generally, consumers are looking for a consistent, high-quality potato
at a reasonable price.”
White Russet potatoes offer a solution to quality issues, Myers says.
The potatoes have reduced bruising and black spots so there is less
perceived spoilage, “leading to a potential waste savings of up to 400
million pounds in supermarkets and restaurants each year,” he adds.
White Russet potatoes are now available in 5- and 10-pound bags from
Potandon Produce and RPE.
“This is an exciting new category because it is the first time that there
has been a low-bruising, reduced black-spot potato that stays fresher-
looking longer,” Myers says. “Consumers use more of what they pay for,
and they’re more convenient because potatoes can be peeled and cut in
advance without the need for soaking to prevent browning.”
In addition to offering White Russet potatoes, Potandon Produce is
working to find solutions to another issue in facing category—pota-
toes turning green as a result of being exposed under bright lights.
“Packaging is one area we are seeing updates in the category,” says Ralph
Potandon’s Light-Blocker Half-N-Half bags
block out 99. 5 percent of all visible and ultravio-
let light rays, virtually eliminating product green-
ing, say company officials. The bags also reduce dehy-
dration/weight loss and sprouting incidences. The Light-Blocker bags
are available in 3- and 5-pound Green Giant yellow potatoes, 5-pound
Klondike Goldust, 5-pound Green Giant white potatoes, 3- and
5-pound Green Giant red potatoes, and 5- and 10-pound Green Giant
russets in both Idaho and non-Idaho bags.
Russet potatoes account for nearly 50 percent of the category dollar
share, which typically leads retailers to give the spud special attention,
but can stunt growth the overall category, says Don Ladhoff, director
of fresh marketing and sales for Black Gold Farms, based in Grand
“Retailers often put too much emphasis on displaying and advertis-
ing russet potatoes, depressing overall category sales dollars and blunt-
ing shopper interest,” he says, noting that red potatoes continue outper-
form in the category. “Given that red potatoes draw attention with their
healthy red color while retailing for an average of 62 percent greater
dollars per pound, it only makes sense to showcase red potatoes promi-
nently on a retailer’s potato table.”
Black Gold Farms specializes in red potatoes that are grown on com-
pany farms in six states to ensure a year-round supply for customers.
The company recently introduced a 3-pound boil-in-bag of red potatoes
and will launch its REDVENTURE campaign in 2017, which celebrates
the strong link between red potatoes and more adventurous cuisine.
Value-added packages that
target a growing number of
consumers looking for single-
serve portions are also trend-
ing in the category, says Eric
Beck, director of marketing for
Wada Farms Marketing Group,
based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Wada Farms offers a full line of potato vari-
eties ranging from russets to varietals to value-added products, and the
company’s newest product, Quickies, fits into the single-serve trend.
“It is a single-serve portion of potatoes packaged in an on-the-go for-
mat,” Beck says. “Consumers will have the choice of either bite-sized
red or yellow potatoes that will be ready to eat after 3-4 minutes in the
The Little Potato Co. is also serving up microwave-ready potatoes.
The company, based in Edmonton, Alb., Canada, is focused on bringing
its proprietary creamer potatoes to consumers, says Angela Santiago,
co-founder and CEO. “Our Microwave-Ready and Oven|Grill-Ready
Creamers with various seasoning packs are incredibly popular,” she says.
Even with an arsenal of innovative potato items on the shelf, observ-
ers say retailers can still misstep in merchandising and marketing the
category. “Often we see retailers display bags upside down or under
bright lights creating green potatoes resulting in higher shrink,” Myers
says. “This is obviously easy to correct through proper training.”
Providing proper training can be difficult for some stores, which is
why Potatoes USA recently launched a video series to train produce
associates in the category. “A lot of what we’ve been hearing from the
retail sector is there’s a lot of turnover in the produce category,” says
Ross Johnson, global retail marketing manager for Potatoes USA. “They
don’t know how to properly handle potatoes to ensure that they’re