NoKota Packers expands packaging offerings
For more than four decades, NoKota Packers, Inc., has been offering high quality service to the potato industry, storing, washing and packaging table stock potatoes for resale throughout the country.
“The Red River Valley is our home. We take pride in being able to work with growers from the best potato growing area around,” said Carissa Olsen, president and CEO of the Buxton, ND-based company. “Our livelihood is potatoes, being able to be a part of this category is imperative to our existence.”
NoKota has been packing and shipping potatoes in a small farming community since 1979. As the industry has changed, the company has been able to adapt and continue to maintain its foundation of being a premium potato packer that prides itself in its quality, integrity and service.
In a typical year at NoKota, the company stores, washes, packs, sells and ships more than 700,000 hundredweight of potatoes.
“Being able to maintain a supply and quality of the supply is key to success,” Olsen said. “We can do that on a consistent basis with our experienced growers and other partners in the industry.”
Last year in the category, NoKota was a little short on supply, but the quality was good, and the company was able to keep its shed going on a normal schedule.
“It was a very dry growing season last year, so yields were down in most areas,” Olsen said. “We believe the desire from the consumers to find sustainable, healthy food options will continue and potatoes are a perfect fit.”
Things look a little better for the upcoming season.
“Our growers continue to produce high quality potatoes,” Olsen said. “We have seen really good quality on our reds and yellows coming into the shed. We had another pretty dry year in most of our growing areas. But once again, potatoes show their resiliency, and the yield has been average and even above average in some areas. Quality has also been average to above average. We maintained our usual number of acres but have switched some more acres from reds to yellows.”
NoKota has a collaborative mindset and is proud to work with other Red River Valley sheds to provide everything its customers are looking for.
“We are also a part of a nationwide group, Fresh Solutions Network, a group of family-owned growers and shippers who choose to work together to make the potato and onion industry better for everyone,” Olsen said. “Our approach gives you unprecedented access to competitive insights, to collaborative innovation and ultimaly, to a customized assortment. Everything we do is based on the idea that if you know more, you can grow more. That‚ what happens when our members work together with each other and when you work together with us.
The yellow market continues to grow and bring many opportunities for NoKota to expand its customer base and packaging offerings.
“Through our Fresh Solutions Network we are continuously looking for ways to offer specialty items and convenient packaging to appeal to the consumer,” Olsen said. “Side Delights, an exclusive brand of FSN has continued to offer options that are quick to prepare and budget-friendly. In 2023, there are also some new and exciting additions coming in convenience items and packaging updates.”
Elsewhere at the company, NoKota hired a new food safety manager, Stacy Smelden.
“We are excited to welcome her to the potato industry,” Olsen said.
“She previously had experience at the retail store level in a nearby small-town grocery store. Stacy will bring lots of knowledge, energy and experience to our team.”