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Susie Daly - Daly Potato Co

"Turning potatoes into a convenience food"

When consumers started to look for more convenient foods traditional staples such as potatoes became less popular. The pasta and rice marketers designed attractive packaging and sold the products well, while the humble potato didn't really change at all and started to lose market share.

The ready to eat potato range

"People began to overlook the potato and forget how versatile it really it is," explains Susie Daly from Daly Potatoes, Tasmania. "Schools no longer teach kids how to cook so many people don't actually know what to do with them also these days people are busy they don't want to stand and peel potatoes then wait for them to cook, they also want a bit of added flair."

More in the ready to eat range

Susie came across this a gap in the market when she was looking for a way to use her 2nd grade potatoes.

"My husband and I started growing potatoes around 30 years ago, we started small and have grown slowly though the years. About 15 years ago we bought a washing facility and started to wash and pack potatoes for the major supermarkets in Australia but found that this created a by-product, for example potatoes which are bruised, but apart from this there is really nothing wrong with them. I started to research how we could utilise our 2nd grade potatoes instead of feeding them to our cows."

Some of the potato salad range

"In addition to our gourmet potato salad rage which has been on the market for a couple of years, we have put together a range of simple potato dishes which are ready in a few minutes. They can be microwaved or heated in the oven, turning potatoes into a convenience food."

For the Dalys it is all about the taste, "We use natural flavourings and real butter, and we carefully select the variety of potato used for each dish. We have created a gourmet range of potato dishes with our in house chef, Russell Crook and we use only real potato not reconstituted potatoes."

Dalys invested in a new potato peeling machine, 200kg per hour can be peeled

The company has invested in a high care facility where the potato salads and the ready to eat potato dishes are made, this facility is still being expanded and fitted with state of the art equipment. They also have a distillery where they make potato vodka and gin, further using the potato by-products, this part of the business is managed by Susie's daughter Ruby.

Every potato is is checked and marks removed

The Hell Fire potato vodka and gin are proving very popular, Susie's daughter Ruby runs this side of the business and attended a trade fair in Hong Kong last year, where she was surprised by the amount of interest in her product, her biggest problem supplying these markets would be in producing enough to fill the orders. At the moment Hell Fire products are sold on the Australian markets and are proving very popular.

The potatoes are steamed after being diced, steaming helps keep the flavour in

"We have always lived in this area and are glad that we can give employment to the local people. This means a lot to us, especially after the major bush fire 5 years ago where many people lost their houses and their jobs, everything in some cases."

The diced potatoes are then blast chilled

Daly Potatoes employs 25 people at the farm, 3 in the distillery, 2 at the market and up to 12 at the processing site. All employees are local and are really committed, they are keen to work according to Susie.

Susie Daly and Russell Crook - the size of the factory has doubled size in the last few months

Until now Daly Potatoes have only had the potato salad range on the market but this is very summer orientated and they wanted to do something for the winter months both to safeguard the staff's jobs and fully utilise the facilities.

Potatoes are mixed with flavouring and tipped for packing

"We are just a mum and dad business, so it has been a huge endeavour for us and I must admit at times I have wished we hadn't taken on so much, but it has been great, it keeps you alive and fighting," laughs Susie.

"We want to grow our business by entering different markets, we are on a journey. Our new ready to eat potato range is really adding value to our potatoes, we are now taking them from paddock to plate. All of our potatoes are grown locally by ourselves."

The individual tubs are automatically filled

The company has come along way in a relatively short space of time. At the start they were filling the potato salads containers by hand but the process has now evolved to machine filled containers, which is both more hygienic and cost effective. Labels were also all hand applied, but are now printed directly on the container.

"Gnocchi is one of our products which really make me happy," said Susie. "So many people have said they don't like Gnocchi, but then they try ours and love it. All of our products are gluten free and we also have vegetarian options. The feedback we have received on our potato salads lines has been amazing."

Every tub goes through a metal detector and is stamped with the date and time of packing

The company have a big range of products and while most people would have started off with just few different dishes, keeping the risk to a minimum, Susie says that they have the facility and the staff so they need to use it.

All potential products undergo strict taste tests as well as shelf-life tests to see how the taste and appearance last the distance. Daly is audited twice a year in order to supply retailers.

The tubs of potato salad are packed into boxes

"We want to use the Tasmania brand to help promote our product as it widely recognised and known for good clean healthy food. We are also looking for export markets for the salads and ready to eat potato dishes. The potato products have just been accepted by a major retailer and will be on the shelves very soon. We think our products will appeal to the rising middle class in the Asian markets where consumers don't necessarily trust their home grown food."

For more information:
Susie Daly
Daly Potato Co
Tel: +61 407535425


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