Wilcox Fresh to roll out a new gold-fleshed russet potato variety
Wilcox Fresh in Rexburg, ID, is rolling out a new potato variety, a gold-fleshed russet, which the company plans to feature at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure 2020 expo in Tampa.
“We have a new variety of potato we are marketing,” said Derek Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing at Wilcox. “On the outside, it looks like a normal russet potato, but on the inside, the flesh is more yellow.”
Wilcox will be marketing the variety under the trademark Gold Rush.
“The culinary qualities” Gold Rush oitaties ”are really good,” Peterson says. “It fries really well. It makes great french fries. It bakes really well. It has a naturally cream texture to it. It eats a lot like a Yukon Gold or any other yellow variety, but then it bakes up and fries really good like a russet potato.”
The product will be available, initially, in five-pound poly bags.
Wilcox Fresh first began growing test plots of the new variety six or seven years ago, he said. “They performed really well” in the initial trials, “so we grew a few more acres, and then a few more. We have essentially been almost doubling our acreage for the last few years.”
Culturally, it grows very similar to other russet varieties, with “very similar yields and very similar results,” he said.
The company has also been doing some retail trials with the variety at with selected retailers for the last several years, “and it performs really well at retail,” Peterson said.
Now “we feel like we will have enough volume that we want to grow that portion of our business,” he said. “We can probably expand to several retailers this fall.”
Feedback from customers and consumer focus groups has been favorable, he said. “They really like it, and it performs well in the kitchen.”
Gold Rush is “a great item to promote during the holidays,” Peterson said. “It will be available this fall, probably in time for all Thanksgiving business.”
He extended an invitation to retailers “to come visit us and get in line and hopefully get them in your stores this fall” as the 2020 crop comes on.
The company definitely plans to continue expanding the program in coming years, he added.
The new gold-fleshed russet variety further broadens Wicox’s already diverse lineup of potato products. “We market everything” in the potato line, he said. “Reds, yellows, russets, fingerlings. We do a lot of onions as well.”
Russets are the company’s mainstay, but “there is a lot of value in being able to provide these other varieties to retailers. The potato category in the store is not just russets, even though that is the biggest part of it.”
Wilcox is “a full-line category vendor” for both potatoes and onions, and “we pride ourselves on providing the best customer service we can,” he said.
“Where I grew up, there was a little hospital, and their slogan was, ‘Big enough to serve you, small enough to care,’” Peterson said. “I always kind of liked that.” That slogan reflects the way Wilcox Fresh serves its customers. “We are big enough,” he said, to take care of the needs of “any of these retailers,” but small enough “to really care about those little details.”