Prairie spud growers enter convenience market

Two potato farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan are taking their produce directly to the heat-and-serve convenience food market.

Barrich Farms of Outlook, Sask., about 90 km south of Saskatoon, and Bassano Growers at Bassano, Alta., about 140 km east of Calgary, have set up a joint venture called Todays Potatoes, with a processing facility at Bassano. The new venture recently launched its products at supermarkets in both provinces.

“While standard table potatoes are healthy, they require preparation to wash, peel and cut and have a relatively long cooking time.” said Jason Meyers of Bassano in a press release Thursday.

“The potatoes have been cut and the cooking has been started,” the companies said, and “consumers only need to heat, season and enjoy.”

Harry Meyers of Barrich Farms said the idea came from Europe, where food companies have become “world leaders” in the production of ready-to-use, partially cooked, fresh potato products.

“These products now account for a major portion of the European market and it’s the only segment of the potato market that’s growing,” he said, citing the new company’s “strategic alliances with European market leaders” to bring similar products here.

Todays Potatoes also help fill an expanding demand for locally produced foods that haven’t been shipped long distances, the two companies wrote.

The companies offer their products in diced, sliced and “kitchen-cut” varieties for sale at Safeway stores in Alberta and at Safeway and Co-op stores in Saskatoon.

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