Center, CO — Citing good quality and steady movement of potatoes out of the Aspen Produce warehouse in Center, CO, sales agent Michele Peterson said the closing weeks of 2012, particularly the holidays, kept the facility busy.
“The holidays were good, and movement has been steady,” Ms. Peterson said in late 2012. “It’s been a good push, just what you’d like to see this time of year. We’re seeing good quality across the board, and our Rio Grandes and some of the numbered varieties are especially good for us this season.”
She said stocks “are not as heavy as we expected them to be, but we’ll fill all of our customers’ orders.”
Also in sales, Ryan Haynie said exports this year are “promising,” and he said one reason is that “trucks are tight in the northwest, so more export product is coming out of Colorado right now.”
Mexico, Mr. Haynie said, is a “viable market for Colorado, and I am optimistic the trade restrictions will be lifted.”
The two sales staffers said Aspen’s traceability program has been enhanced with the addition of Kwik Lok’s new technology that allows for all trace-back information to be printed directly on the Loks, along with a food-safety precaution note to wash and cook the potatoes thoroughly before consuming.
Jed Ellithorpe, farm and operations manager for Aspen’s sister company, Ponderosa Partnership, said 2013 will see the farming side of the company cut its acreage.
“That’s the world we live in,” Mr. Ellithorpe said. “People are not eating as much fresh potatoes as they used to, and their shopping habits have changed. It’s a generational thing, I think.”
He added, “It’s an event to cook now, and shoppers go into stores to get the ingredients for the eating event. It’s not a daily regimen anymore.”
Mr. Ellithorpe said the industry “needs to reinvent the marketing strategy for potatoes, or the trend won’t change. Growers will have to change as well. It can’t be up to the sheds. Growers need to follow trends, too. We also need to strengthen our partnerships with retail and foodservice and increase each other’s margins. Of course that’s easy to say, but how do we do it?”
And as for the overall economy, he said, “We need to lay low and tighten our belts.”