Alsum Farms' Christine Lindner Talks New Products and Potato Supply
- by Jordan Okumura
FRIESLAND, WI - Despite battling Mother Nature at the beginning of the Wisconsin potato harvest, supplies bounced back and are in ample supply for Alsum Farms and the company’s potato portfolio.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I caught up with Christine Lindner, who works in National Sales & Marketing for Alsum Farms & Produce, to discuss the latest on WI potatoes, and what retailers can look forward to from the innovative company.
“We wrapped up a successful harvest this season, even with the heat at the beginning of our harvest followed by some untimely rains in September,” Christine tells me. “We were able to adjust and get our entire crop harvested. The quality on some of our reds and yellows were affected because of the heat and rain and those potatoes we ran right off the field, rather than store to avoid any issues in storage.”
Quality on russets overall is good, she adds, and the size profile on russets is slightly larger than what Alsum has had in previous years, leaving the company with a good mix of different sizes to market. Yields are off about 10% overall for Alsum, but have had no major disease or pest issues. The company grows Russet, Red, Gold, and Fingerling Potatoes.
So, how does Alsum currently see the market in terms of supply and demand?
“We expect markets on reds to remain strong given issues with reds early on in Wisconsin and a reduced supply out of North Dakota,” she commented. “Russet markets will be similar to last year. Supply, market demand, quality, and weather are all factors effecting marketing opportunities. We anticipate a very good crop on our farm and across the state and country so supplies will be very good and potatoes will be a good value. One exception to the national supply will be excess rain and recent hail to the North Dakota crop. Specific to the Midwest market, consumers seek out local and Wisconsin-grown potatoes are positioned to fill that market demand.”
She adds that Alsum’s location in the Midwest is also a strategic logistical advantage for its distribution of potatoes and onions to customers in the Midwest and East Coast.
When I asked Christine what new trends and developments are driving the company’s program, she tells me that grower/packer/shipper is responding to the changing consumer taste and preferences. One of these new preferences that Alsum is responding to is the demand for new and exciting value-added potato products. The company launched Alsum Farms & Produce Fast & Fresh! Microwave-Ready Creamer and Fingerling Potatoes, which come in a pre-packaged steam tray with flavored seasoning and olive oil packets and are available year-round.
“We provide the consumer with ready-to-serve healthy potato offerings to meet the growing trends for fresh foods fast. The value-added category will continue to experience growth in the future. Consumers are looking for convenience and new ideas on how they can prepare potatoes and other produce items that they love,” Christine shared. “In addition, consumers are looking for ways to eat healthier and potatoes and other produce items fit this need.”
The Alsum Farms & Produce Fast & Fresh! Microwave-Ready Creamer and Fingerling Potatoes offer fresh red creamers and fingerlings that are triple-washed and ready to cook.
“Today’s busy consumers can take these fresh potatoes from the microwave to the dinner table in six minutes or less,” she adds. “Potatoes are the perfect nutritious side dish that is a perfect complement to any meal with no preparation.”
The three new potato products are:
- Parmesan & Garlic – Fresh red creamer potatoes with parmesan and garlic seasoning for a gourmet taste. *Also available in Oven | Grill-Ready Tray
- Gourmet Garlic & Paprika – Fresh yellow fingerling potatoes with garlic and paprika spices for an authentic savory blend.
- Fiesta – Fresh yellow and red fingerlings mixed with bold spices for a sizzling flavor.
This fall, Alsum Farms & Produce is introducing a new line of 24 oz. Gourmet Potato pouch packs to its specialty potato offerings. The pouch provides a convenient grab-n-go concept for busy shoppers, helps extend product shelf life and prevents contamination from consumer handling. In addition, the high-graphic pouch will allow consumers to spot potatoes from a distance while allowing a viewing window of the product.
“The pouch offers better merchandising for retailers as the pouch sits upright on the shelf. The pouch pack features on the front an on-trend prepared potato recipe, and on the back highlights the trust and expertise of farmer, Larry Alsum, in the potato field that connects consumers to the people and places their food is grown,” Christine shared.
The three new pouch packs Alsum Farms & Produce is introducing with new crop WI Potatoes are:
- 24 oz. Gourmet Blend Fingerling Potatoes
- 24 oz. Gourmet Blend Petite Potatoes
- 3# Gourmet Gold B-Size Potatoes
Alsum Farms & Produce also provides retailers signage, POS materials and promotions to boost store sales of the Wisconsin Potatoes.
Alsum Farms & Produce ships year-round Wisconsin russets, and typically finishes shipping Wisconsin Reds at the end of February and Wisconsin Golds at the end of January. The company also sources from other districts’ new crop reds and golds until Alsum begins its harvest in July and August. This allows the grower to continue shipping year-round reds and golds to customers in addition to the Wisconsin Russets.