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Wada Farms promoting one-pound 'Microwave in Bag!' special pack

by Rand Green | September 20, 2010
Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC in Idaho Falls, ID, markets potatoes not only in cartons and bags but also in an assortment of special retail packs.

In the past, the company has offered "what we called 'Easy Steamer,'“ with 1.5 pounds of potatoes in a microwavable bag, said Kevin Stanger, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “This year we transitioned" from the “Easy Steamer” into a new one-pound microwavable product called “Microwave in Bag!” It is available in red and yellow varieties.

According to the company’s web site, along with the name change, “our microwave-ready steam bag of red and yellow potatoes has received a whole new look. The new design features clearer messaging that highlights the convenience of this value-added item. Ready in eight minutes, this one- pound bag of ready-to-eat goodness retains the taste and texture of oven baked potatoes in a fraction of the time.”

The product comes in 20-pound cartons containing 20 of the one-pound bags and is available year round. “We offer a variety of promotional materials including secondary displays, gift card sweepstakes, p-o-s material, downloadable sales presentation and product info sheet,” according to the web site.

Along with the new product introduction, the company has introduced a new high-graphic attention-grabbing display pod, a mini-bin roughly two feet square and counter height with a chic look that can be either used as a free- standing display or backed up against a display case for a spillover style display. It is also used as a secondary display in the meat or deli department or next to rotisserie chickens. Each unit can display about two dozen of the “Microwave in Bag!” packages.

Wada has also been running various special promotional activities with specific retail customers in conjunction with the new product and the new pod display, including pod display contests and consumer incentives, Mr. Stanger said.

The switch from the 1.5-pound size to the one-pound size for potatoes in ready-to-microwave bags came about as a result of extensive market research, he said. The one-pound size allows retailers to sell the product at a price point that it will move better.

There has been not huge growth but “a consistent growth” in the category, and “I think as things develop, it will continue to grow,” he said.

Wada also continues to offer its individually wrapped microwavable potatoes called “Easy Baker.”

Russet Norkotah and Russet Burbank potatoes continue to be the main Idaho potato varieties offered by Wada Farms. But this year, the company will also be growing in Idaho on a commercial scale some red and yellow varieties and some other specialty varieties as well. Those will be offered under the “Wada” label as well as the “Dole” label and will be available in three-pound, five- pound and 10-pound poly bags. Some of them will also go into the microwavable bags, “so we will have our own supply” for those packs.

Wada Farms also works with a network of co-packers throughout the country with its “Dole” label marketing programs.

In addition to potatoes, “our onion program continues to grow,” Mr. Stanger said. Also, “we are very heavily involved in sweet potatoes now in our Dole sweet potato program, and that has definitely grown.”

New on sales this season are Manny Carvajal, who is new to the industry, and Dominick Carnazzo, who was previously with Pro*Act, he said.