Think Inside the Box
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater, and Carole Metcalfe, marketing manager for Tong Engineering Ltd.
With today’s increasingly competitive international marketplace, potato growers and processors are continuously looking at more efficient and progressive produce handling techniques that increase crop yield and value.
Supplying high-quality potatoes that have been harvested and handled gently, are of a consistent size and shape, and offer a good shelf life requires significant care and attention throughout the potato handling process.
In the fresh produce industry, prices are dictated by the amount and quality of supply, and therefore effective potato storage practices are vital to maximize returns on crop yield in line with demand.
Tong Engineering, leading United Kingdom potato and vegetable handling equipment manufacturer, exports its wide range of advanced systems worldwide. The company manufactures a range of market-leading box handling equipment as well as advanced potato bulk loading, cleaning and grading equipment for effective handling of crop prior to storage.
At the 2017 Potato Expo in San Francisco this January, there was talk about the benefits of storing potatoes in boxes as an alternative to the more widespread U.S. approach of bulk storage.
While attending the event, Tong experienced interest from growers in the merits of box storage, and the gentle box handling equipment that makes the whole process more efficient.
According to Charlie Rich, export sales manager for Tong Engineering, the company is now working with several U.S. growers to integrate specialized box handling equipment into their current potato handling operations. He says the practice will bring added value and better stock control for those willing to embrace the benefits and shift their current storage practices.
“In the United States, box storage is a much less common storage technique than bulk crop storage,” Charlie explains. “This is quite opposite of the way potatoes are commonly stored in the U.K. and Europe, and there are some very strong reasons why box storage not only makes potato storage more efficient, but also helps to add value to the stored crop.”