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Potandon works with foodservice companies to rebuild business

potandon22 Potatoes and onions are staples for many restaurants, and consequently for food distributors as well. As foodservice operations begin to open up again following COVID-19-related shutdowns, having availability of the full range of potato and onion products in demand by the foodservice industry is important to those operations.

Potandon Produce LLC, in Idaho Falls, ID, is able to meet those needs, and all with a single phone call, according to Stephanie Bench, Potandon’s director of foodservice sales.

“We are here to support them and to help them continue to build their business back up to where they want to see it in the coming months and year,” she said. “We are a full-service company and can help foodservice distributors, restaurant chains and wholesalers with the full range of potato and onion products and varieties they need. We have a wide range of customers that we service for the foodservice side.”

After a sharp fall-off, demand for potatoes and onions from the foodservice sector is beginning to pick up again, Bench told The Produce News on July 2. “Each month is different, but as more states open and restaurants start to open to the public, it is slowly increasing across the board.”

Potandon will begin to harvest new crop potatoes and onions in August. Meanwhile, “we are finishing up strong here in Idaho” with the 2019 Russet crop, Bench said. The company also has red and gold potatoes available, as well as onions, out of other growing areas, so that “we can help service the customer with what they need when they start to reopen and build their business back up,” she added.

Many of those products are available from Potandon in the Green Giant Fresh label, a recognized national brand for foodservice as well as consumer products. The brand is very popular with potatoes and onions, “as it is for other commodities,” Bench said. The Green Giant label is available on foodservice cartons for russet potatoes out of Idaho and Washington, for onions out of Idaho-Eastern Oregon, and for red, gold and mini potatoes from all growing regions.

“People recognize the Green Giant brand, and having a national brand can help increase their business,” she said.

Food safety is always an important consideration to foodservice customers, and “we have a top notch food safety program here at Potandon,” she said.

The company also offers customer support in a number of ways. “We have a lot of industrial information that is available to customers if they have questions on supplies,” she said. “We are also always looking to partner [with customers] with new ideas and innovations in the potato and onion categories. We are always willing to talk to people about that.”

Two product areas where Potandon is currently seeing a big push in foodservice are mini potatoes and frying potatoes. For mini potatoes, “we have a new facility that enables Potandon to size the minis to a customer’s needs if they need a tighter specon reds, golds or medleys,” Bench said.

The company will also work with restaurant chains in determining the best potato variety to use for fresh cut fries in their particular operation. While the Russet Burbank continues to be, in many cases, an ideal potato for fresh cut fries, Potandon also continues to offer its Pure Gold potato, a specialty variety for frying, she said.

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