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Wada Farms now offers organics most of the year

Organic produce is a growing category for Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC in Idaho Falls, ID, as both the volume of organic products the company ships and the season of availability continue to expand.

Wada Farms offers customers a full line of potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes, and “we have organics in all those items,” as well as conventional product, said Kevin Stanger, president of Wada Farms Marketing Group.

03-Wada-products In the potato category, that includes russet potatoes, red potatoes, and gold potatoes, in cartons and bags. Also, “we have availability to purple potatoes in organic,” Stanger said, “so we have the full line of organics that will be available.”

During the coming year, beginning with the approaching 2018 harvest, “we will have them for about 10 months of the year,” all out of Idaho. “This is both our own [product] and [product from] another partnership here in Idaho,” he said. “We will have organics from August until probably close to June next year, so we will have one of the longest organic programs out there — and very good quality. We are really excited as we are growing that program this year.”

In the onion category, Wada’s organics come not just from Idaho but from various growing areas. As with conventional onions, “you’ve got to rotate around the country,” Stanger said. Also, the availability of organic onions is not as consistent as it is with potatoes. “Sometimes organic onions are a little easier to find than at other times.”

As for organic sweet potatoes, “most of those are coming out of North Carolina,” he said.

There continues to be growth in the organic market, Stanger said. Although the volumes for organics are still only a small percentage of traditional produce volumes, “organics have some good growth percentages.”

If a customer normally takes 10 truckloads of conventionally-grown potatoes, for example, and then for an ad that customer orders 11 truckloads, that extra truckload constitutes a 10 percent increase. But in organics, “[if] you are growing from one bag to two bags, you just had 100 percent growth,” Stanger said. Number-wise, “it doesn’t come close to traditional,” but “we are seeing growth.” Even the major retail chains “are putting organics in their produce departments, so it seems to be a continually growing deal.”

One thing sets Wada Farms apart from the competition in the organic category is that “when you are talking Idaho, there are not too many players that even have organics,” although there are a couple of others that do, Stanger said.

Another is that taking into consideration the breadth of Wada Farms’ product line, there are not many Idaho shippers that offer “the full gamut of product that we do.”