The foodservice sector has always been a major part of Wada Farms Marketing Group’s business. As the company has grown and diversified over the years its foodservice business has grown as well, as has the assortment of foodservice packs and products offered to foodservice buyers.
Foodservice business has of course fallen off during the first half of this year, but in June, it started to come back. “It’s not where it was, by any means,” Kevin Stanger, president of Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, in Idaho Falls, ID, told The Produce News July 1. “But we are seeing it come back.”
There are still a lot of questions regarding how fast things will continue to reopen, Stanger said, adding that “there are still a lot of variables out there, so I don’t know which way it is going to go.” Some states may go backward, he said. But the company’s outlook for the future is optimistic.
“Our goal is to continue to grow and increase the full line offerings that we have for the foodservice sector,” he said. Those offerings fall into four different product categories: potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and watermelons.
In the potato category, “we are going to continue to offer russets, reds, yellows and chippers as well as special foodservice backs such as foil-wrapped potatoes for those that want to save on labor expenses,” he said. “That will continue to grow and increase on all those different offerings.”
The onion category will also continue to grow, Stanger said. Wada Farms offers foodservice customers a full line year-round onion supply.
The same thing is true in the sweet potato category, he added.
More recently introduced into the Wada Farms line up are watermelons out of North Carolina. Those, too, are being offered to the foodservice sector and will be available from around the second week in July through about the first or second week of September.
Wada Farms is one of the few [shippers] in Idaho that can really offer a one-stop shop in those categories, Stanger said. “We are the only one, but we are one of the few that really has all those things,” he said. Even just within the potato category, Wada Farms is one of the few companies that can offer the full gamut of Russets, colored potatoes, chipper potatoes, foil wraps, and even organics. ”We are unique in that way,” he said.
In addition to Idaho-grown potatoes, “we have our Colorado supply,” he added.
Organic products have been an increasingly important part of Wada Farms’ business in recent year, not only in potatoes but in onions and sweet potatoes as well. “Now organics have not really been as big into foodservice as it has to retail, but it is starting to make inroads, and we have the organics available to offer to those guys that need it both in russets and in colored potatoes.”
Wada Farms has not allowed the cancellation of the face-to-face 2020 PMA Foodservice expo slow down its foodservice marketing activities. “We are doing more direct contact and speaking one-on-one with those of influence,” Stanger said, “because that is how things are done, through relationships. We have had more success just continuing to build relationships with existing customers and building upon the business Wada Farms already does with our customers.”