Pontandon, Idaho Fresh Announce Merger

Published online: May 17, 2002
Potandon Produce LLC, exclusive marketer of Green Giant Fresh potatoes and onions in North America, and Idaho Fresh Cooperative/Sunspiced of Idaho, announced merger of their sales operations May 16.

Potandon will become the sales agent for Idaho Fresh Cooperative on June 1. Potandon will also absorb Idaho Fresh Cooperative’s sales customer service and accounting employees into its operations headquarters in Idaho Falls, ID.

In a related transaction, Idaho Fresh Cooperative acquired an ownership interest in Potandon on May 1.

The merger fits the strategy of bringing additional growers into Potandon’s supply base. It enhances the value Potandon will take to its customers because it ties the marketer to additional ground, Kent Romrell, vice president of sales for Potandon, said.

Romrell explained benefits of the merger as allowing Potandon to better service its customers during difficult market conditions, to supply the volumes required by today’s national, regional and local customers, and provide quality that Potandon’s customers have come to expect.

Potandon will continue packing and shipping all existing labels including Green Giant Fresh, Sunspiced, and Tepee. Further expansion of its private label business is also planned.

Idaho Fresh Cooperative growers will develop a complete category marketing program. Loraine Driscoll, president of the co-op, said consolidation of marketing and the expertise would allow for increased opportunities in the national market and offer more consistent returns to growers.

Potandon’s partner acres will now exceed 40,000. It buys potato and onion products from over 80 co-packers in 25 states and four Canadian provinces and Peru. Potandon is recognized as an industry leader in food safety, quality control and use of third-party audit systems.

With the addition of Idaho Fresh Cooperative, Potandon group will consist of High Country Potato and Idaho Fresh Cooperative in Idaho, and four grower shippers is Oregon and Washington: Bud Rich Potato, Skone and Connors, Harvest Fresh, and Balcom and Moe, as well as members of management.

Idaho Fresh Co-op has membership of about 70-plus growers in southeast Idaho. They grow about 26,000 acres. The co-op also operates five fresh-pack facilities that pack and ship Idaho-grown potatoes.

Idaho Fresh is currently the largest shipper of fresh-pack potatoes in both Idaho and North America. It markets fresh potatoes under the Sunspiced and Tepee brands, licensed from Basic American Foods. In addition, the co-op has an agreement with Basic American Food to supply all off-grade potatoes to their facilities.