Potato Marketers Satisfy Customers and Growers
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor
It’s a proud group with an important job that they take seriously and know well.
Wisconsin’s potato marketers—the growers/shippers/packers of the industry—get quality product onto the store shelves and seek solid returns for growers.
Each player sums up their role in different ways. “I feel that, as a grower/packer/shipper, I need to serve two customers—the traditional customer who we’re selling our potatoes to, and through our packaging and marketing service, the growers we pack for,” says Larry Alsum of Alsum Farms and Produce.
“Our role is to understand the potato quality, grade and size specifications that our customers want from us. We communicate our quality and size specs we’re looking for to our growers, including our own farm operation, on a regular basis,” Alsum adds.
Dick Okray of Okray Family Farms says that his staff has a long history of marketing varying types and grades of spuds to myriad customers, adding, “We can find a buyer for just about any tater.”
When asked about communications between his company and the growers, he explains, “We make it a point of asking for on-floor inventories each morning. Also, it’s critical to get one another’s opinions as to the quality and availability for our customers.”
“Our role is to maximize the return to the grower, but it’s bigger than that,” says Mike Carter, CEO of Bushmans’ Inc. “We put together year-long programs. The retail industry has been consolidated. They don’t want seasonal products. They want year-long supply. The markets are increasingly complex.”
Alsum says most of his customer base expects to buy potatoes 52 weeks a year, so communication is vital to share with growers so that all parties can fit potato supplies in the proper market windows.