Wada Farms continues to grow organics segment
Wada Farms, a family-owned supplier of fresh potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes, has long-standing partner relationships throughout the United States and in countries around the world.
Organics have been part of the Wada portfolio for roughly about a decade.
“Wada Farms recognizes that organics play an important role at today’s dinner table, and we strive to provide options that meets the consumer need for this produce segment,” said Eric Beck, director of marketing for the Idaho Falls, ID-based company. “Wada has developed a program that helps organic procurement be as seamless and efficient as possible for today’s supply chain.”
Developing the organics program has been an evolutionary process for the company, as it finds varieties and agronomy practices that are more sustainable to meet the organic demand.
“The organic consumer has more needs beyond just buying potatoes,” Beck said. “They are interested in the entire ‘Field to Fork’ process and that is where Wada shines being a fully vertically integrated company from start to finish.”
Over its time in the segment, Wada has learned that proper category management and consumer insight need to be at the forefront of the organic strategy.
“At the end of the day, this is a targeted segment that is very calculated in their organic buying habits,” Beck said. “Grower-shippers need to have a steady finger on the organic pulse to make sure they are remaining dynamic to change and adapting as necessary.”
The organic category remains stable and viable and Beck believes it needs to be part of the produce matrix in all industry segments.
“Consumer conversion from conventional or organic remains fairly linear, but there is incremental growth from year to year,” he said. “The secret to strong partnerships is transparency. Open, honest conversations about strategy and supply chain economics to meet the consumer need is a winning formula.”
Wada has been happy with what it’s seeing with its organic products this year.
“The 2023 organic crop looks to be a good one. Good yields, good quality, good packouts—all in all it should be a good season. Comparing it against these metrics, I would say the organic crop should be average to slightly above average.”
The way for future growth, Beck noted, is by educating the consumer about organic benefits, helping them make an informed decision about organic produce and making it a part of their everyday life.
“At the retail level, promotions get the needle moving and merchandising properly at store level will help sales at retail,” Beck said. “Making sure you have the right spec/bag on the shelf is equally important.”
Elsewhere around the company, Wada recently hired Nicole Rumsey Wasylow to join its sales and marketing team.
“Her expertise in the potato and onion category will be an asset that our customers will be able to lean on to meet their produce and category management needs,” Beck said. “Nicole is a born and raised Idaho farm girl. Being the daughter of a local vocational ag teacher, she spent many years involved in the FFA program. She started in the produce business as a summer job in between college semesters and fell in love with it. Nicole has been in the produce business for over 20 years, working a variety of positions from entry level to her current role.”