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Eagle Eye Produce launches new combo bags for Idaho potatoes

Eagle Eye Produce in Idaho Falls, ID, has just introduced a new style retail bag for Idaho red, yellow and russet potatoes in its Harvest Select line.

Called combo bags, they are poly on the front and mesh on the back. They “look really nice on our customers’ shelves,” said Dallin Klingler who heads the company’s marketing and communications.

It is “a visual thing,” he said. It is “a more premium looking bag.” The poly front allows for great graphics, and the mesh back allows for a clear view of the bag’s contents. The concept makes the bags “shine on the shelf.”

Eagle Eye grows potatoes in various locations from central-eastern Idaho. The variety mix, which is unchanged from last year, consists of Russet Norkotahs, Russet Burbanks, reds, yellows and whites.

“We always have test fields where we are trying new varieties to see what makes the best yield and stores the best and tastes the best and all that, but we have found some good varieties that are moving pretty well, so this year we are sticking with it,” said Klingler, who added that the company’s total potato acreage is also stable this year.

Eagle Eye began harvesting the first of its new 2020 crop in early August with Norkotahs out of central Idaho. “Everything is looking good so far,” Klingler said Sept. 2. “Quality has been really nice. We are seeing some good stuff coming out of the field so far.”

Sizes have been “picking up in the last couple of weeks. We’re getting some bigger sizes now, which is good,” he said.

In the colored varieties, the yellows had just started, and “whites are coming on this week,” he said.

Burbanks will start several weeks later and will ship out of storage starting “in a few months.”

Eagle Eye offers a value-added line for retailers that includes Fresh Blends fresh-cut potatoes in assorted flavors, Tiny Taters microwavable seasoned baby potatoes, Harvest Select individually wrapped microwave-ready potatoes and Simply Good Steam’d potatoes in a microwavable steam bag. It also does baby potatoes in a 1.5-pound mesh bag.

“We have a good balance between foodservice and retail and processing partners, so we have been able to stay stable” throughout the pandemic, “for which we are grateful,” Klingler said. Retail is doing well, and while foodservice is “hard to predict … we’re optimistic.”

The company has been participating in the USDA food box program. “We’ve had a lot of food box demand as well as retail demand,” he said.

Although Eagle Eye is a large potato shipper, the company is also involved in many other commodities.

“The fact that we are integrated with other commodities” is a benefit to customers, Klingler said. In the potato category, “we can load reds, yellows, russets and our value-added line out of our warehouses in Idaho … so you can load up all of your varieties and everything on one truck, which is a huge advantage.”