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Published March 13, 2013, 08:08 AM

Grand Forks firm to pack Betty Crocker spuds

FARGO -- A Grand Forks, N.D.-based potato shipper will be supplying potatoes to be sold under the Betty Crocker brand — one of a few national “fresh” or raw potato retail brands.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO -- A Grand Forks, N.D.-based potato shipper will be supplying potatoes to be sold under the Betty Crocker brand — one of a few national “fresh” or raw potato retail brands.

Paul Dolan, general manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc., announced the deal recently in The Packer, a national trade publication.

“Things worked out and we are now the sole Red River Valley supplier for Betty Crocker,” he told The Packer on March 4. “It’s pretty big news around here, possibly the biggest we’ve had.”

Dolan, who was out of the country and not available to comment, told The Packer that the co-op formed an exclusive marketing partnership with Nonpareil of Blackfoot, Idaho.

Nonpareil has been working since 2011 with the Betty Crocker brand, which is owned by Minneapolis-based General Mills.

Dolan said it wasn’t “yet clear” what the Betty Crocker volume would be. He said APGI officials met with Nonpareil and Betty Crocker officials in January, and that his company was already filling Betty Crocker bags.

Dolan told The Packer he thought his company’s “family-owned, cooperative nature” appealed to “the Betty Crocker vision of home-cooked meals and time-tested recipes.”

APGI will supply red and gold potatoes in 3-, 5- and 10-pound bags, as well as “bulk bins” for the Betty Crocker brand.

‘Wave of future’

The co-op of 18 growers from the Dakotas and Minnesota is the largest combined fresh-potato packer in the Red River Valley.

Nonpareil describes itself as one of the nation’s largest growers and shippers of fresh potatoes, and a leading manufacturer of dehydrated potato products. Company officials didn’t return messages from Agweek to talk about how many regional exclusive agreements they have.

Ted Kreis, a spokesman for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, said the Betty Crocker deal is the second “exclusive” marketing arrangement with a national brand that involves a valley potato company.

The first was the agreement between Potandon Produce of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Campbell Farms of Grafton, N.D. Potandon markets under the Green Giant Fresh national brand.

Also, although it doesn’t involve a national brand, NoKota Packers of Buxton, N.D., became part of Fresh Solutions Network, a marketing alliance with several other companies and shippers around the country.

“It’s a wave of the future,” Kreis says, of the marketing alliances.

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