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‘Business as usual’ at Potandon for the 2011-12 potato season

The harvest of Idaho Russet Norkotahs was still a few days away for Potandon Produce LLC in Idaho Falls, ID, when The Produce News talked Aug. 23 with Jamey Higham, the company’s vice president of market development for foodservice.

Some potato packers in the state were already “up and going,” he said. “But we will start shipping Norkotahs toward the first part of next week,” with Russet Burbanks expected to begin “probably toward the end of September.”

A little later in the fall, “we will get started up with our reds and our yellows and our other varieties,” such as Klondike Rose and Gold Dust.

The crop “got in late this year, and it has been behind most of the growing season,” said Mr. Higham. “But lately, it seems we have been having some cooperative weather with warm days and cool evenings. Hopefully we have been making up some of the ground the last little while.”

It was “still a little bit early to tell on most of the crop” what potato size would be like, he said, but test digs indicted that crops were “a little behind” and the Norkotahs appeared “smaller right now” than normal. They were “very smooth,” however.

Potato acreage for the company “is about flat this year,” he said. Also, “this year we don’t have any new products that we are going to be introducing, so it is just going to be business as usual.”

The company “will still have everything we have offered in the past.”

According to the company’s web site, Potandon is a “full-line supplier of potatoes and onions from all major production areas in North America,” the market share leader in Idaho, and the market share leader in the United States, marketing products under the “Green Giant Fresh” and “SunSpiced” brands, it said.

The company, which at one time was owned by Pillsbury, is now independently owned “by five prior Pillsbury managers and six grower-shippers.”