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Value-added potatoes at Viva Fresh

No matter what size customers like their potatoes, whether it’s one bite, two bites or three bites, RPE grows and markets them as such. They will be showcasing potatoes (gold, red, purple) and especially highlighting the Tasteful Selections brands that are available at the retail level, according to Mark Bucek, Regional Sales Manager. Three particular value adds will be shown: the Take & Shake™ cups, Season & Savor™ and Steam & Savor. Take and Shake cups are filled with fresh potatoes and come with a seasoning packet to liven up snack time. There are four flavors: Cheddar Cheese (the newest addition), Chipotle BBQ, Chili Lime and Black Pepper Rosemary & Thyme. “They’re microwaved for three minutes, then you shake on the seasoning,” said Bucek. He also suggests they can be used as a side dish for two people. 

The Season & Savor microwavable tray is a 16oz tray of potatoes that cooks quickly and evenly and also comes with seasoning packs Black Pepper, Rosemary & Thyme; Smoky Bacon & Ranch; and Brown Sugar & Cinnamon (with Sweet Surprise mini sweet potatoes). One item that Bucek says is a particularly unique item is the mini sweet fingerling potatoes in this lineup. “I haven’t seen anything similar on the market.” “They’re smaller and cook faster.” Don’t think it odd if you hear some customers compare the brown sugar and cinnamon flavoring to a pie – once you add the butter after cooking, Bucek says “it’s like eating dessert.” 

Also unique in its category are RPE’s Steam & Savor organic potatoes; a 24oz package that’s steamable right in the microwave. It’s available in gold, red or a combination red and gold package. “It’s another item that I haven’t seen – organic steamable potatoes,” said Bucek. 

About 90 percent of the potatoes are grown for the Tasteful Selections line in Bakersfield, California. “The potatoes used in these lines are all grown small so they cook fast and they’re triple washed so customers don’t have to wash them.” Bucek also says since the sizing is so consistent everything cooks evenly. “We have a really good May harvest coming up and it’s our biggest one of the year so we’ll have the most potatoes, fresh available for our customers,” he said. Harvests will also happen in the summer and fall/winter and early spring. “We’re constantly bringing fresh potatoes to the market.” Their potatoes are distributed throughout the USA and internationally to Hong Kong, the Middle East and in Canada to some customers under a private label. 

Things were a little tough this past March because of the rain. “It was not good for us. Then there was a freeze that compounded on the rain,” said Bucek. Between now and this spring harvest he said it’s been tough keeping up with demand but they have a couple of weeks left before May 1, which is their target date for the big harvest supply to come in. “We anticipate the demand out there will still be really high.” 

Prices have remained stable, Bucek says from the Tasteful Selections side. “Our pricing doesn’t fluctuate like the normal commodity market does. Tasteful Selections prices have been the same for our customers for the last five years. It’s a very consistent potato pricing market for the baby potatoes but on the commodity side if you talk to the farmers they’d like to see pricing go up.” 

Visit RPE’s Booth #200 at the Viva Fresh Expo. 

For more information: 
Mark Bucek
Tel: (817) 200-6270 

Publication date: 4/21/2017
Author: Rebecca D Dumais
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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