Potandon introduces new value-added retail potato product

potandonnewpack It was just 18 months ago that Potandon Produce LLC in Idaho Falls, ID, introduced an innovative value-added potato product in the Green Giant Fresh brand called One Step … Done!, which consists of one pound of either red or yellow Klondike mini-potatoes and a patented seasoning disk in a patented two-chamber gusseted microwave bag. The line, which is available in an assortment of seasoning flavors, has been well received at retail.

Potandon has now followed up with a new value-added product, a quick-and-easy fresh, shelf-stable mashed potato product called Minute Mashers.

Mashed potatoes are a perennial favorite, but some people find it daunting to prepare them at home. With Potandon’s Green Giant Fresh Minute Mashers, one needs simply to put the bag of potatoes and “chef-inspired” seasoning in the microwave oven for seven minutes, smash the steamed potatoes in the bag with oven mitts, unzip the bag and serve.

The product comes in three varieties: red potatoes with buttery sea salt and pepper; yellow potatoes with buttery chive and dill; and red potatoes with roasted garlic.

“It’s a pretty easy way of getting mashed potatoes,” said Gabriel Boldt, potato variety operations manager at Potandon.

Boldt said that during the coronavirus pandemic, Potandon has seen an increased demand for packaged products in the retail sector. There has been “a pretty steady pull through for all of our poly products.” When potato demand in the foodservice sector dipped, people bought more bags of potatoes at retail.

Demand for value-added at retail fell off for a little while, but “that is starting to resurge,” he said. “People are wanting that again.”

With the start of the new harvest season in Idaho, Boldt said, “We are excited about the season and about our varieties.” The company has grown a little coming into the 2020 harvest season, he said. “Our acres are up a little bit. We feel like we are in a good position as to where we are going to be marketing-wise. We will be strong in the market this year on our golds and our reds in particular, and our minis will be up just a little bit. We feel like we will have a good presence in the mini [potato] market. We have seen pretty steady growth the past five years in that market.”

The 2020 potato growing season began with cool temperatures, and “the crop started off a little bit slow,” he said, but it is “finishing strong. We are looking for some good quality.” He expects yields to be about average.

“We have come through a very peculiar season with the world adjusting to this new environment that we are in.” But people need potatoes. They are “a staple that people want, especially in the retail sector, so it is keeping us very stable and steady in our market. We are seeing that especially in the varietal area, the demand stays pretty strong.”

For a period of time during the last few months, potato pricing reached historic levels, “pricing we have never seen before,” Boldt said, noting that the pandemic has changed people’s habits. “That has, in turn, created some different pulls on our industry.”

While the pandemic has cast a shadow over many businesses, “we have been lucky to be on this side of the coin and to be part of the potato industry,” he said. “We are glad to be part of the food supply chain where we are helping to sustain people’s lives.”

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