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Colorado potato icon Tom Ford was 81

Longtime Colorado potato grower and industry icon Thomas R. Ford died June 25 in East Wenatchee, WA, from an apparent heart attack while traveling to the National Potato Council Summer Meeting in Walla Walla. He was 81.

Born July 18, 1931, in Carmel, CO, Mr. Ford married the former Donna Dee Belt in 1951, and the couple made their home in the San Luis Valley where he farmed potatoes and barley for more than five decades.

tom-fordTom FordA member of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee for more than 40 years, Mr. Ford came on in 1968 as a board member and served as chairman from 1991 through 2009. In 2008 he was inducted into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame, and he served outside agriculture as a member of the Alamosa State Bank Board.

In addition to those business pursuits, Mr. Ford owned three trailer parks and three carwashes. He was an avid fisherman and loved to travel, play golf and spend time with his family.

His influence in the potato industry both inside Colorado and on the national level was significant.

Linda Weyers, assistant director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said, “Tom was a quiet man who listened carefully before speaking. When he made comments, there was always a lot of thought that went into them, and what he had to say always had impact.”

She added, “He was a very caring and very kind person as well.”

Mr. Ford is survived by his wife, Donna, of Alamosa; a daughter, Debbie Ford, of Alamosa; sisters, Josie Brewer and Alice Peel, both of Mesa, AZ; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were scheduled for Saturday, June 29, in Alamosa at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Hospice del Valle through Rogers Family Mortuary, 205 State Ave., Alamosa, CO 81101.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Potato movement good, but transportation a concern for Red River Valley shippers

Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said “movement is going well.” USDA figures show “for the week ending Dec. 6 that 124,000 hundredweight of Red River Valley potatoes had been shipped. “This is up 18 percent this year over the previous year. And it’s more than 2012 and 2011 too,” Kreis added.

For 2014 as a whole volume is up despite the fact that the crop started two weeks later than in 2013. “We’ve made up the difference in the late start,” he said.2008-9-8-1620-red-harvest-conveyorDespite a later start than 2013, volume is up for Red River Valley potatoes.

The Red River Valley produced somewhat fewer yellow potatoes than last year, but Kreis said these are “insignificant” numbers. Red potato production was up somewhat.

“The quality was much better” in the 2014 crop, he noted. “We had more potatoes and better quality.” In December the stocks on hand were the same volume “but there will be less shrink” in the pack-out.

“We were late planting, which cut into the yields, which were average.” Yields overall in the valley were spotty, with some growers having greater yield and others less than a year ago. “Overall it evened out.”

David Moquist, a potato grower-packer-shipper and secretary-treasurer of Crystal, ND-based O.C. Schulz, is pleased by movement into December.

Paul Dolan, manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc., based in Grand Forks, ND, did not see “a lot of Christmas boost” for his potato crop. He added that Associated’s potatoes “are storing and keeping well. There are no frost issues.”

Dolan noted that Associated’s total potato volume is down from a year ago, but the saleable volume is up because of high packouts due to excellent quality.

Small-sized Russet potatoes produced in Idaho and Washington in 2014 have brought down the market and created competition for Red River Valley red potatoes. “This has hurt prices,” Dolan said. He expected the market will improve in January because Wisconsin shippers will have finished most of their shipping and Florida’s spring growers are not expected to have the volume produced a year ago.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Congressional decisions benefit RRV and other potato industry segments

Along with other sectors of the national potato industry, Red River Valley grower-shippers will benefit from the U.S. Senate passing the $ 1.1 trillion Consolidated & Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which is part of the 2015 spending bill.

Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, credits the lobbying work of the National Potato Council staff in Washington, DC, for encouraging these Federal changes. Kreis particularly cited the work of John Keeling, the council’s executive vice president.KreisTed Kreis

“There are two provisions in the legislation that are totally unrelated, but both very important to the potato industry,” Kreis wrote. “One offers some temporary regulatory relief to the trucking industry while another provision brings some common sense into the WIC program.”

The latter case means that fresh potatoes have been added to the WIC program for the first time. “Under current law, all fresh fruits and vegetables except white potatoes are eligible for purchase in the USDA’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program,” he said. “That is about to change.” 

He also noted that “’white potatoes’ refers to all fresh potatoes regardless of skin color. The term ‘white’ is used to differentiate potatoes from sweet potatoes.”

The new spending omnibus has a provision that would make fresh white potatoes eligible for purchase with WIC vouchers — available to low-income women and children at critical stages of development — just like all other fresh fruits and vegetables.

At least a temporary trucking fix

Kreis said the Congressional roll-back of limited daily hours of driving for the nation’s truckers will be at least a “temporary fix” to ease a scarcity of truckers.

Kreis and others in the Red River Valley indicate a driver shortage is causing significant damage to their businesses.

“A provision in the spending bill also calls for a detailed study of the effect of the regulations on truck crashes,” Kreis indicated in his release. “The measure will roll back the restrictive new rules governing hours of service until next October, when both sides are expected to resume their arguments.

“The truck shortage is a tremendous problem for the whole country,” Kreis told The Produce News.

Because of a shortage of truckers, Kreis said his members “have lost some business. We’ve got to find a way to get it moved. It’s a challenge, but it has eased up a bit since Thanksgiving. After deer hunting season” in the Red River Valley truckers return to the road “it’s usually a little better. And it has been.”

Kreis said there is significant usage of rail service, but trucks remain the preferred mode of transportation.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Congressional decisions benefit RRV and other potato industry segments

Along with other sectors of the national potato industry, Red River Valley grower-shippers will benefit from the U.S. Senate passing the $ 1.1 trillion Consolidated & Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which is part of the 2015 spending bill.

Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, credits the lobbying work of the National Potato Council staff in Washington, DC, for encouraging these Federal changes. Kreis particularly cited the work of John Keeling, the council’s executive vice president.KreisTed Kreis

“There are two provisions in the legislation that are totally unrelated, but both very important to the potato industry,” Kreis wrote. “One offers some temporary regulatory relief to the trucking industry while another provision brings some common sense into the WIC program.”

The latter case means that fresh potatoes have been added to the WIC program for the first time. “Under current law, all fresh fruits and vegetables except white potatoes are eligible for purchase in the USDA’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program,” he said. “That is about to change.” 

He also noted that “’white potatoes’ refers to all fresh potatoes regardless of skin color. The term ‘white’ is used to differentiate potatoes from sweet potatoes.”

The new spending omnibus has a provision that would make fresh white potatoes eligible for purchase with WIC vouchers — available to low-income women and children at critical stages of development — just like all other fresh fruits and vegetables.

At least a temporary trucking fix

Kreis said the Congressional roll-back of limited daily hours of driving for the nation’s truckers will be at least a “temporary fix” to ease a scarcity of truckers.

Kreis and others in the Red River Valley indicate a driver shortage is causing significant damage to their businesses.

“A provision in the spending bill also calls for a detailed study of the effect of the regulations on truck crashes,” Kreis indicated in his release. “The measure will roll back the restrictive new rules governing hours of service until next October, when both sides are expected to resume their arguments.

“The truck shortage is a tremendous problem for the whole country,” Kreis told The Produce News.

Because of a shortage of truckers, Kreis said his members “have lost some business. We’ve got to find a way to get it moved. It’s a challenge, but it has eased up a bit since Thanksgiving. After deer hunting season” in the Red River Valley truckers return to the road “it’s usually a little better. And it has been.”

Kreis said there is significant usage of rail service, but trucks remain the preferred mode of transportation.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New generation PEF technology for potato processing

New generation PEF technology for potato processing

Dutch company Pulsemaster has introduced a new generation PEF (pulsed electric field) technology that significantly improves potato processing. With this cost efficient application, the final breakthrough of PEF processing in the food industry is approaching.

The Pulsemaster PEF technology induces poration of potato cells, leading to cell disintegration. This makes the pulsed electric field systems an excellent alternative for preheaters in the potato industry. The PEF treatment improves cut quality and significantly reduces French fry breakage. Water and energy consumption in potato processing are reduced; blanching, drying and prebaking times are shortened. Furthermore, the leaching of sugars is improved. The treatment can also reduce frying oil absorption and fat content up to 50%.

Energy efficient, compact and hygienic
Pulsemaster’s technical improved PEF concept is more energy efficient than the previous generation. The new equipment gives a better pulse treatment of potatoes with a more compact and modular pulse generator. The generator is combined with a robust and hygienic transport system and PEF treatment chamber.

PEF processing is a continuous process and the Pulsemaster systems can easily be implemented in existing processing lines. The new range of industrial scale equipment – named Conditioner – has treatment capacities from 1 ton an hour to 50 tons an hour (about 110,000 lb/h) for potato processing systems. On a commercial scale total costs of 1 Euro/ton (0.1 Eurocent per kg / 0.056 US Dollarcent per lb) have to be expected.

The Pulsemaster PEF systems can also be applied to improve other drying, cutting, peeling and pressing processes. Examples are the drying of sweet peppers and grapes, the peeling and cutting of tomatoes and the pressing of vegetables and olives. In the meat industry PEF processing leads to shorter tumbling times.

Unique experience
The innovative Dutch company Pulsemaster combines years of unique experience with pulsed power technology. The production facility is located in Bladel, The Netherlands. The pulse generators have a proven track record for industry, research, medical and defense applications. Their patented parallel switching technology enables better pulse control and high reliability.

Pulsemaster aspires to further growth in the potato, fruit and vegetable industry. The company has seen rapid development it its export activities. In Seattle/Bellevue, Washington Pulsemaster has an office for the North-American market at its disposal. “The worldwide potato industry has been showing great interest in our new generation PEF technology”, says Pulsemaster’s managing director Mark de Boevere.

Moreover, pulsed electric field processing is an excellent technology for the mild preservation of liquid foods and beverages. The pulsed electric field inactivates micro-organisms, but leaves valuable compounds, such as vitamins and proteins, unaffected. Pulsemaster also offers PEF systems for food preservation purposes, including a new generation juice treatment chambers.

For more information:
Mark de Boevere
Pulsemaster BV
Tel. +31 497 820300
Email: [email protected]
www.pulsemaster.us

Publication date: 11/28/2014


FreshPlaza.com

U.S.D.A. approves modified potato

U.S.D.A. approves modified potato

A potato genetically engineered to reduce the amounts of a potentially harmful ingredient in French fries and potato chips has been approved for commercial planting, the Department of Agriculture announced on Friday.

The potato’s DNA has been altered so that less of a chemical called acrylamide, which is suspected of causing cancer in people, is produced when the potato is fried.

The new potato also resists bruising, a characteristic long sought by potato growers and processors for financial reasons. Potatoes bruised during harvesting, shipping or storage can lose value or become unusable.

The biotech tubers were developed by the J. R. Simplot Company, a privately held company based in Boise, Idaho, which was the initial supplier of frozen French fries to McDonald’s in the 1960s and is still a major supplier.

The potato is one of a new wave of genetically modified crops that aim to provide benefits to consumers, not just to farmers as the widely grown biotech crops like herbicide-tolerant soybeans and corn do. The nonbruising aspect of the potato is similar to that of genetically engineered nonbrowning apples, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which are awaiting regulatory approval.

Please click here to read the full article from the NY Times.

Publication date: 11/10/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US: Three sweet potato growers in a mash

processing sweet potatoes to baby food and vodka, among other things
US: Three sweet potato growers in a mash
Whoever thinks that sweet potatoes are only available in their original form, should take a look at the company Yamco in North Carolina. The company is property of the cultivation companies Farm PakHam Farms and Burch Equipment and after years of research, in collaboration with the North Carolina State University, has developed a purée of sweet potatoes that retains its colour, flavour and nutritional value. The fresh supply of sweet potatoes from the owners’ cultivation companies is enabling a quick and efficient traceability to the field.



Grower Jimmy Burch on his field of sweet potatoes

No additives or preservatives are used during the process. The company uses a patented “microwave” technology for this. The purée is packaged aseptically, which means there are no freezing or cooling costs. Due to the process the shelf life is extended (to around two years) and the colour and nutritional value maintained. The product is also available organically. “The only ingredient is sweet potato,” says director Bill Heafy enthusiastically. He won’t say how many sweet potatoes are processed each year, but his smile betrays the huge volumes going through the factory. Besides sweet potato Yamco is also producing puréed spinach, pumpkin and carrot at the moment.



John Barnes of Farm Pak

The sweet potato purée is suitable for countless applications, in drinks (for colour, flavour and nutritional value), for baking (as dough and filling for cakes, muffins, doughnuts and rolls), as an energy bar (nutritious ingredient and natural sweetener), for the soup, juice and gravy industry (thickening properties, mouth sensation, flavour and nutrition), as baby food (excellent stand alone dish, or added to other fruit and vegetable purées), as a side (easy to apply to frozen or food service meals).



HAM Farms team

The sweet potato purée is also used as a functional food, as claims can be made of sweet potato purée with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fibre, beta-carotene and potassium. The purée is also sold to the ice cream industry, as a healthy snack, as a meat replacement, as animal fodder and speciality stores process the purée into fudge and other sweets. The aseptic packaging is available in 20, 200 and 1,135 litres. Bill Heafy himself sees the bakeries as the biggest potential for his product.


Vodka
But even more than this is done with Yamco’s sweet potato purée. A few years ago the Covington Gourmet Vodka was born. Grower Jimmy Burch originally sold the purée to the Boston Beer Company, who makes Samuel Adams beer, but decided to see whether he could distil the purée into vodka himself. It worked well, in its début year this vodka one a gold medal during the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.


Bill Heafy of Yamco shows the Covington Gourmet Vodka

Covington is the sweet potato variety currently dominating the cultivation in North Carolina. The vodka is available through

InternetWInes.com is believe to be sticking around on the market. The vodka is now available in all ABC stores and in a large number of states in the US.

For more information:
Yamco
310 Kingold Blvd
Snow Hill, NC 28580
[email protected]
www.yamco.net

Publication date: 10/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delta Packing to handle sales and marketing for Discovery Garden’s potato line

Delta Packing, a grower-packer-shipper of fresh cherries and wine grapes, is now the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Discovery Garden’s line of potatoes.

According to Delta Packing, this partnership, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows it to grow in providing a broader range of commodities offered to their customers, as well as diversification for Delta Packing.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to be joining with Discovery Garden’s, who have established an outstanding reputation for quality and service,” Paul Poutre, general manager of Lodi, CA-based Delta Packing, said in a press release. “They approached us with this opportunity, and after looking into it, it just seemed to fit well with the timing of our other commodities and our growth plan as a company.”

“With Delta Packing, we will continue to grow our sales and also make plans for new pack types of smaller sizes and organics,” Rob Campbell, president of Oakdale, CA-based Discovery Garden’s, added in the press release. “Our branded potatoes have been embraced by consumers for many years; now Delta Packing will provide a fresh and experienced sales force to gain more retailers and more shelf space.”

Discovery Garden’s LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cal-Ore Seed Inc., and was established in 2003 for exclusive marketing of the proprietary branded potatoes. The registered trademarked potatoes include Sierra Gold, Autumn Gold, Sierra Rose and Sierra Gems.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Fresh Solutions Network takes fresh approach to potato and onion sales

Potatoes and onions are seen as classic commodity crops by many growers, who place too much emphasis on growing and harvesting their products as inexpensively as possible so that they can sell at lower prices.fsn-logo

While that approach may work for some, Fresh Solutions Network sees the equation differently. FSN feels that only focusing on squeezing down costs can actually cost retailers more, by short-changing them on quality, innovation and marketing support.

These areas — product quality, innovation and marketing support — are the three pillars that Fresh Solutions Network is using to help its retail customers to prosper. FSN believes the best breakthroughs — in products and in business — arrive at the intersection of insights and collaboration, so category data are analyzed and developed into insights to develop innovative products and strategic solutions.

“We think the value proposition for retailers has changed and that many of the ways potato and onion suppliers continue to try to capture market share may be a thing of the past,” Kathleen Triou, president and chief executive officer of FSN, said in a press release. “They fixate on driving out costs to win business, to the point that their packaging is ineffective and their marketing support is non-existent. Fresh Solutions Network’s approach gives retailers unprecedented access to competitive insights, to collaborative innovation, and ultimately to optimal assortments. For example, we recently collaborated with a regional retailer to strategize an optimized assortment that delivered a 7 percent sales increase and stole market share from their competition over a six-month pilot program.”

Fresh Solutions Network has reinvented the “supply-and-buy” model by focusing on a direct-supply “dream team,” an invitation-only network of potato and onion growers and shippers with superior products and trustworthy track records who personally own the land, work the soil and pack the product.

Many of the long-held ways of buying produce mean retailers may not know where their potatoes and onions are coming from, and that puts quality and accountability at risk. FSN customers always know exactly what product they’re buying and which grower they’re buying it from.

FSN members are accountable for quality and service — to each other and to their retail customers — because it is literally their own farms that are at stake.

Fresh Solutions Network Partners grow, pack, sell and deliver potatoes and onions directly to their retail and foodservice customers, providing seamless, transparent product supply and service. Fresh Solutions Network, LLC partners are Sterman Masser, Inc. (Masser Potato Farms and Keystone Potato Products in Sacramento and Hegins, PA), Michael Family Farms Inc. (Urbana, OH), Basin Gold Cooperative Inc. (Pasco, WA), Green Thumb Farms Inc. (Fryeburg, ME), Red Isle Potato Growers Ltd. (Prince Edward Island, Canada), NoKota Packers Inc. (Buxton, ND) and Sun-Glo of Idaho Inc. (Sugar City, ID).

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Red River Valley anticipates a good red potato harvest

Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop.

Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern plains soil, can be as important to crop quality as the growing conditions that created the potatoes. If the soil is too hard it can damage the spuds during harvest.

Kreis said some Red River Valley reds were packed and immediately shipped in early September.

“We expect a good crop this year,” Kreis told The Produce News. “The early reports are that everything is looking good now. There have been a lot of samples” but the large harvest for storage wouldn’t begin until mid-September.

“Last year we put about 4 million bags into storage,” he said. “The number this year will be that, or exceed that, this year. I really don’t know. Yields can vary tremendously. It’s hard to guess exact numbers.”

The Red River Valley’s red potato acreage is expected to be up 1 or 2 percent this year. In 2013, the valley produced 23,000 acres of red potatoes. North Dakota produces a total of about 90,000 acres of potatoes. Beyond reds, these are mostly russets that are virtually dedicated to the processing market. Kreis added that the red potato acreage actually includes yellow potatoes, which will represent about 8 percent of the fresh production.

David Moquist, the secretary-treasurer of O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc., located in Crystal, ND, said the quality of the 2014 potato crop looks good, with higher yields than a year ago.

“If demand holds like it did with the Minnesota crop, there is a good chance the price holds,” said Steve Tweten, president and chief executive officer of NoKota Packers Inc., located in Buxton, ND. “If demand goes down” for Red River Valley red potatoes “with extremely cheap russets hitting the market, all bets are off.”

Tweten said russet potatoes “tend to put a ceiling on the market, but the spread in the price between reds and russets the past few years has increased. The ceiling is limited when russets are plentiful and cheap.”

Tweten said, “The potato crop looks nice. The quality is good. We have average tonnage, based on samples. Not everyone will be harvesting until the week of Sept. 15.”

In a press release that Kreis sent to The Produce News on Sept. 5, he said, “All signs are that it will be a very nice crop. Once we got past the late spring planting, growing conditions have been ideal, but we are still predicting average yields, but harvested acres may be up a bit. This would give us between 4.2 million and 4.5 million hundredweight of potatoes for the fresh market; over 90 percent would be reds, the remainder yellows.

“Demand for red and yellow potatoes in both sectors has increased the past two shipping seasons quite rapidly at the expense of russets,” the release from Kreis continued. “I think there are a number of factors including more exposure of colored potatoes on cable food networks, women’s magazines and restaurant menus. There has also been a substantial increase in retail promotions and shelf space, as red potatoes grow in popularity.”

Kreis added, “Red potatoes from the Red River Valley and Central Minnesota are easily the top sellers in supermarkets in most of the two states.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Tarheel 2014 sweet potato harvest will be back to normal

BENSON, NC — North Carolina’s sweet potato harvest, still in full swing at mid-September, is back to normal, and none too soon. After two years in a row of below-average acreage planted due to weather, the 2014 crop is growing on 66,000 acres. That’s the USDA estimate cited by Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, here. The feds predict that 65,000 of those acres will be harvested, equal to almost half of the nation’s crop.NCSPROUNDUP10614-VICK-PROCESweet potatoes (Suss Kartoffeln) bound for the German market are processed and packed at Vick Family Farm near Wilson. North Carolina is the leading U.S. grower of sweet potatoes, and 20 percent are exported overseas, mainly to Europe.

In 2013, wet weather hampered planting of the seedling sprouts. “We had a rain of biblical proportions in North Carolina,” Johnson-Langdon explained. “That held the crop down to about 54,000 acres planted. This year, we’re up 22 percent in estimated acreage planted, and we’ve had an uneventful growing season, good weather generally. We should have plenty of sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving this year.”

The short crop last year resulted in some growers in late August running out of supplies of stored 2013 sweet potatoes before they could harvest and cure their 2014 crop. Curing takes five to 10 days, and then they are stored at 55-60 degrees for up to a year. The favorite variety of sweet potato grown in North Carolina is the Covington, named after a North Carolina State University researcher and industry leader who developed the variety. Johnson-Langdon estimated that 90 percent of the sweet potatoes grown in the state are Covingtons.

The North Carolina Agribusiness Council estimated on Sept. 14 that about 27 percent of the sweet potato crop in the state had been harvested. Planting hit a high in 2011 in North Carolina, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of 134,000 acres planted nationwide, 65,000 were in the Tarheel state. Yields were 208 hundredweight bags per acre, nationwide and 200 hundredweight in North Carolina. Acreage planted dropped in 2012 to 130,500 nationwide and 63,000 in North Carolina, with yields at 209 hundredweight nationwide and 200 hundredweight in North Carolina.

Joey Hocutt, produce grower at Triple J Produce in Sims, NC, expected to continue harvesting his 1,300 acres of sweet potatoes, including 150 organic acres, until Nov. 18. The weather had been good, he said, and he had 55 workers for the harvest under the federal H2A worker program.

At Vick Family Farms in Wilson, NC, Jerome Vick, who first harvested sweet potatoes in 1985, said Sept. 19 his harvest was “back to normal” after a wet 2013 held down plantings. “We use the same workers to do tobacco and then sweet potatoes, but this year tobacco is a little late and sweet potatoes are a little early, so we’re short on labor. Other than that, we’re seeing good yields and having a good harvest, now about 25 percent complete,” he said.

Charlotte D. Vick, partner and director of sales and marketing, said Vick Family Farms had expanded its sweet potato fields to more than 1,000 acres and is building a new 25,000-square-foot curing and storage facility that can hold 180,000 bushels of sweet potatoes to accommodate demand from the new dehydration facilities nearby.

Ham Produce Co. in Snow Hill, one of the larger U.S. sweet potato growers, is expanding production by 50 percent this year, to 13,000 acres. With its dehydration facility in Farmville (see “Two new sweet potato dehydration facilities to open in North Carolina,” The Produce News, Sept. 22, 2014, page 2) now open, Stacy Ham, vice president, said, “Here we go again, expanding our sweet potato production by 50 percent again this year.” Ham Produce and its 65 full-time, year-round workers started harvesting its crop in late August and will continue into November.

Johnson-Langdon pointed out that value-added processing has resulted in new sweet potato products that have extended shelf life and increased sales. She rattled off examples: microwaveable sweet potatoes and sweet potato chips and fries; vodka and beer; pancake, pie and muffin mix; baby food; juice drinks; and crackers. About 20 percent of the North Carolina sweet potato crop is exported via container ships on a 10-14 day journey to 19 countries, mostly in Europe.

“With the new dehydration plants for sweet potatoes opening in the state in the coming year, our 300 sweet potato growers will be able to sell all their crop, including those too large or small for retail, and new markets will open for pet food, animal feed and juice drinks,” she noted. The dehydration plants will use the 25 percent to 30 percent of the sweet potatoes left in the field and not harvested now, she added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.