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Campbell Farms volume down this season, but spuds look good

Like other growers in the Red River Valley, Campbell Farms has taken its lumps during the 2011 production season. Owner and partner Tom Campbell said he expects the crop will be down approximately 10 percent this season due to impacts from weather. But he sounded an optimistic note on Sept. 26 when he spoke with The Produce News. When asked to characterize the crop, he said, “It’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

The company is located in Grafton, ND, and has been owned by Mr. Campbell and his brothers, Bill and Greg, since 1978. Reds and yellows are grown and marketed, and Mr. Campbell said acreage ticked upward this season.

Cold, wet conditions during the production season delayed planting. “Potatoes went in late,” Mr. Campbell stated. Campbell Farms was halfway through its harvest toward the end of September. “We’ve been washing and packing for two weeks,” he said. The harvest will conclude in the middle of October.

Last spring, Campbell Farms bought Ryan Potato Co. in East Grand Forks, MN. Ryan Potato is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Campbell Farms. “We will wash and ship those potatoes,” Mr. Campbell commented. The acquisition boosted red and yellow potato volume by approximately 15 percent.

“We’ve put quite a lot of money into equipment upgrades,” Mr. Campbell said. In all, Campbell Farms owns enough storage space to handle 70 million pounds of potatoes, as well as 20,000 square feet of packing space and 6,000 square feet of cooler space.

The company markets potatoes under the “Campbell Farms” and “Green Giant” labels. Sixty percent of product is sold to retail customers, 30 percent is marketed to foodservice, and wholesales take up the balance. Campbell Farms offers its customers a wide array of consumer packaging, bulk and master containers.

Last year, the North Dakota farm and entire packingshed became GAP-certified. The company is certified under the Produce Traceability Initiative. “We’re compliant in every way possible,” Mr. Campbell noted.