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Spuds bud in barrier trays

Potatoes are breaking into a new market with Purely Idaho brand potatoes from Burley, ID-based Redi Foods. Packed in a tray with clear film lidding and sleeved in colorful paperboard, this modified-atmosphere package has a 21-day shelf life.

Pw 21096 Potarebreint 18

Sold from refrigerated cases in the produce department of grocery stores throughout the U.S., the 16-oz packages come in four cuts: hashbrowns, steak fries, oven fries and oven roast. The potatoes are 80% cooked; consumers simply finish cooking them in a conventional oven.

"We did focus groups, and people said if there was a price-value understanding, this would be something they would be interested in," says Dave Adams, vice president of sales and marketing at Redi Foods.

The black tray is high-impact polystyrene adhesive laminated to a five-layer coextrustion of ethylene vinyl acetate/tie/2-mil ethylene vinyl alcohol/tie/linear low-density polyethylene. It is supplied by Rock-Tenn (Norcross, GA).

Trays are thermoformed from rollstock at Redi Foods on a 420 Tiromat Powerpak from Convenience Food Systems (Avon, MA) at 12 cycles/min. According to Bill Fowler, plant manager, the potatoes drop from a 14-bucket Ishida scale from Heat and Control (Hayward, CA) into the formed trays. Before sealing, air is replaced with a CO2/N2 gas mixture.

Applied on the same machine is the lidding, supplied by Packaging Partners (Franklin, WI). It's a polyvinylidene chloride-coated polyester adhesive-laminated to LLDPE, then post-coated with an anti-fog coating.

The paperboard sleeve, a 16-pt solid bleached sulfate offset-printed in six colors by Rock-Tenn, has a die-cut window that shows off the product.

"The response has been, 'Where have you been?' and 'When are you coming out with other items?', which we plan to do because the possibilities with potatoes are endless," Adams says.

Available since late October, the potatoes sell for $1.99.

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