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Wada Farms offers foodservice sector a full range of potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes

The strongest draw that Wada Farms Marketing Group has for the foodservice industry, according to Kevin Stanger, president of the Idaho Falls, ID, company, is its broad array of products.

That lineup includes Idaho potatoes, non-Idaho potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes, both conventional and organic.

02-Wada-products In the potato category, “we have Russets, reds, yellows, organics and chipping potatoes,” Stanger said. “Chippers are becoming bigger and bigger for foodservice, so we are focusing on that heavily,” he said.

In Russet potatoes, not only premium cartons, but also No. 2s are a big item for foodservice, he said.

Organics, on the other hand, are not in strong demand in the foodservice sector as they are at retail; still, there are some distributors servicing restaurants that use organic produce. Wada Farms has greatly expanded its organic programs in recent years and is well positioned to meet those needs.

At the PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey, CA in July, “we definitely are bringing out all those things that we are focusing on,” Stanger said. “There are some shippers that may have a few of those items. But Wada Farms can fulfill your needs for all of those items. A customer’s truck does not need to make multiple stops for them, and you don’t have to call one guy for this and another guy for that.”

Most foodservice customers don’t need straight truckloads of every item, he said. They may only need a couple of pallets of some items, “and if we can do this all in done deal” and put it all on one truck, this is great,” he added.

Another draw is the company’s reputation, built over a period of 75 years. “Hopefully our service still hold some clout with people,” Stanger said. “Customers tell me that Wada has a great name.”

Another draw is the company’s focus on quality. “I am not going to sit here and tell you that any potato you buy from us or anybody else may not have some issues,” he said. “But I can tell you that we are probably as aggressive as anybody in working to maintain and improve quality.”

In addition to the GAP inspectors that every shed has, Wada Farms Marketing employs two full-time in-house quality control people. One is a former USDA inspector, and the other was trained by the former USDA inspector. Also, “we are working with the University of Idaho directly on programs to assure the highest quality crop possible and are doing a number of things internally as well, trying to be as proactive as we can,” he said.