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Eagle Eye Produce runs Idaho russets, reds and yellows year-round

Eagle Eye Produce, a diversified produce growing and shipping organization headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, has made a significant investment in technology to maintain the quality of potatoes held in storage and extend the length of time they can be stored without suffering a quality loss. The result has been to extend the shipping season for potatoes grown in Idaho.

Maintaining russets in storage from the end of one harvest season to the beginning of the new crop has become standard practice for many shippers in Idaho, but achieving that same storage life for colored potatoes has been more challenging. Many potato shippers in Idaho supplement their Idaho production by sourcing red and yellow potatoes from other growing areas during late spring and early summer until the new Idaho crop is ready to come out of the ground.

02-Eagle-Eye--RedPotatoesInField But for the past two years, “we have now been able to run red and yellow potatoes grown in Idaho 12 months of the year,” said Coleman Oswald, sales manager at Eagle Eye. “We have consistent quality year-round and don’t have to source from other regions.”

Historically, the company would finish running its Idaho-grown reds and yellows sometime between March and June, then source reds and yellows from eastern Washington or California and bring them to Idaho Falls, then repack them and cross-dock them. Now, “we can have a 12-month Idaho program on reds and yellows where the Grown in Idaho seal never has to leave the bag,” Oswald said. That “drives down costs for the consumer and makes things more consistent and more convenient.”

Eagle Eye has also “invested heavily in the equipment to pack and produce several different items in lines that we didn’t do historically, so that we could provide all items and SKUs that any supermarket would want on their shelf” and be their “single-source supplier for all of their potato needs,” he said.

“We bought equipment to do tray packs” and are now offering an assortment of value-added products on overwrapped trays, notably the Fresh Blends line of red, yellow russet, or red and yellow medley creamer-sized potatoes, such as Rosemary Reds with Butter and Spices. The refrigerated products are washed, sliced or diced, seasoned, and ready to cook.

Eagle Eye is now growing round white potatoes in Idaho as well, something not many producers in Idaho are doing. That was the one potato item ”we were seeing consistently in stores but we were having to source from other regions,” Oswald said. Growing quality white potatoes successfully in Idaho “took a lot of trial and practice.” Consumers want them white, smooth, and blemish free. “We are very selective with the soil and the regions in Idaho that we grow them, and we are also very careful which of our growers we allow to grow them for us,” he said. “The quality the last few seasons, and again this season, is outstanding. They are absolutely beautiful.”

That program is not yet year-round but runs from September until around March.

“We continue to improve on our organics each year as well,” he said.

“So we have invested a lot in our facilities and our equipment and in our packaging to make sure that we have all segments of the potato category covered, so that those customers don’t need to purchase from anybody else to cover their entire lineup of potatoes on the store shelves,” he said.