Idahoan Foods, a maker of dehydrated potato products, is looking to hire 70 employees at its facilities in Idaho Falls, Rupert and Lewisville to meet increased demand fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Idahoan Foods experienced unprecedented demand last spring and is continuing to experience higher than usual demand,” said Kristie Ferriell-Beck, the company’s vice president of human resources.
Last spring, Idahoan Foods announced it was adding 100 additional employees to help keep up with demand. It surpassed that goal and is now adding 70 new team members in production, packaging, quality assurance, maintenance and management departments, she said.
“Consumers are leaning on brands they trust more than ever, craving ways they can save time but still put delicious meals on the table, and are gravitating toward comfort foods,” she said.
The company currently employs nearly 800 people and produces instant mashed potatoes, as well as hash browns and scalloped potato products. It expects sales and production to hold beyond the pandemic, she said.
“We’ve consistently entered more and more households each year even before the pandemic escalated growth. We anticipate the number of families across America who purchase Idahoan products will continue to climb now that even more consumers have tried our products in recent months and continue to look for convenient and high-quality solutions for their at-home meals,” she said.
Idahoan Foods hangs its hat on being the top distributor of fresh-dried potato products in the U.S.
Starting in March, dehydrated potatoes at retail saw a significant increase in dollar sales and volume sales in the U.S., said Kayla Dome, global retail marketing manager with Potatoes USA.
From mid-March to the end of November, retail sales of dehydrated potatoes were up 33.1% in value and 27.4% in volume year over year, according to Potatoes USA.
“After panic buying subsided in July and we entered into more new-normal shopping patterns, consumers continued to buy dehydrated potatoes at grocery stores,” she said.
Sales from July 1 through the end of November were up 20.8% in value and 17.3% in volume year over year.
“We have continued to see consumers shop in the center store to restock their pantries,” she said.
Retail sales for dehydrated potatoes in 2020 through the end of November were up 31.1% in value and 25.3% in volume — the largest increase in value and volume among retail categories.
Other potato products saw increased sales at retail as well in 2020. Through November, fresh potato sales were up 21.3% in value and 14.8% in volume. Frozen potatoes were up 28% in value and 24.1% in sales.
Potato chips were up 11.3% in value and 6.4% in volume. Refrigerated potatoes were up 21.1% in value and 12.5% in volume. Canned/bottled potatoes were up 30.1% in value and 24% in volume.
The only potato category that declined in sales was deli-prepared side dishes, which were down 8.7% in value and 11% in volume.
Total potato sales at retail at more than $12.8 billion were up 16.7% year over year with a 14.7% increase in volume to about 7.3 billion pounds.
Data for sales to foodservice are not available, but Potatoes USA assumes those sales have declined.