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Wada Farms capitalizes on diverse branding programs

Branding programs provided to retail customers by Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC have been structured to meet today’s diverse market requirements. “We believe in offering both our customers and their consumers a variety of labels to meet whatever their need-preference may be,” Marketing Manager Chris Wada told The Produce News Nov. 26.

The marketing arm is located in Idaho Falls, ID. Wada Farms Potatoes Inc. has been producing quality potatoes since 1943. Varieties marketed are russets, reds, yellows, whites, purples and fingerlings. Additionally, Wada Farms markets sweet potatoes and yellow, red, white and sweet onions.

Farming operations continue to earn high grades for farm- and non-farm food-safety certifications and third-party audits. “Efforts have been ongoing to complete our Primus [Good Agricultural Practices] certifications as well,” Mr. Wada added. “In terms of traceability and the [Produce Traceability Initiative] milestones, all of them have been completed to date.”

Wada Farms Marketing Group has held the exclusive marketing agreement for all potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes sold under the “Dole” label for the past 15 years. “For independent grocery retailers and many others, the use of the easily recognizable ‘Dole’ label immediately brings credibility and quality assurance to those product offerings,” Mr. Wada said. “While not as recognizable as the ‘Dole’ label, our ‘Wada Farms’ shipper label has built a reputation for quality and has established brand recognition nationwide.”

Demand for private label continues to grow. “In today’s retail environment, there are more labels and product sizes-styles under our packaging umbrella than ever before,” he went on to say. “With the trend toward private labels by many retailers today, we value our label versatility as much or more than any brand recognition from any single label we ship.”

The company continues to supply the marketplace with innovative specialty products designed to make life easier. “Easy Steamer” bags were the first value-added product introduced by Wada Farms and are designed to be used in a variety of ways including mashing directly in the bag. Red and yellow potatoes are available convenience-packed Microwave in Bag options. Ready in eight minutes, each steam bag contains one pound of potatoes. The microwave-wrapped “Easy-Baker” line also facilitates cooking, which retains oven-cooked potato taste and texture.

Wada Farms also offers restaurant-quality gourmet-packaged petite reds, golds and purples. Fifteen-pound “Farmer’s Market” label retail cartons contain hand-selected bakers and are popular for holiday or special-event promotions. The company also offers 2-, 3- and 4-count tray packs of triple-washed Idaho baker-sized potatoes.

According to Mr. Wada, product is shipped to all market sectors. “The split of product shipped amongst those varies throughout the year and is limited by availability of supplies and crop sizes,” he said. “Having a good mix of all of them is necessary to keep our production in balance.”

While the company’s focus is the domestic market, Mr. Wada said, “We are always open to new export opportunities if available.”

In 2008, Wada Farms entered into a joint venture with Farm Fresh Direct LLC, headquartered in Monte Vista, CO.

“Category Partners is our category management service offered to all of our customers,” Mr. Wada said. “While most applicable to retail, there is something of benefit for all of our customers interested in additional information to base decisions from. In short, Category Partners makes sense of all the external data available in the marketplace and combines that with our customers’ internal data to offer insights and support for varying areas of interest. These areas of interest include promotions, product assortment, pricing [and] merchandising.”

The company is a proponent of environmental sustainability. “Our efforts toward being as sustainable of a company as we can are definitely something we are proud of,” Mr. Wada noted. “We publish a sustainability report every year that details all of our efforts along with targets, goals, scorecard. Our sustainability message can be viewed on our web site or through our detailed booklet upon request.”