Fresh Solutions Network continues to innovate
- by Keith Loria | December 26, 2017
Kathleen Triou, president & chief executive officer of the Fresh Solutions Network, LLC, a dedicated marketing services organization committed to the advancement of the fresh potato, sweet potato and onion categories, which collectively is in the top 5 largest growers, packers and shippers of potatoes in the country.
“Fresh Solutions Network is a group of family-owned growers and shippers who choose to work together to make the potato and onion industry better for everyone,” she said. “They are the exclusive suppliers of the Side Delights brand of fresh potatoes.”
FSN has been launching one to two new product lines every year for the past five years and this year introduced its Side Delights’ A Cut Above fresh cut line, which includes a Carnival Cut French Fry and a Red Potato Skillet Diced item. The launch is limited to the East Coast at the moment.
“We are continuing to innovate,” Triou said. “In my opinion, the category should constantly be refreshed with new and exciting products for shoppers to try. Rotating through product lines seasonally keeps the convenience, gourmet and value-added segments fresh and exciting.”
The harvest was good for all FSN partners and the quality looks outstanding, according to all estimates with a good range of sizes expected for 2018.
“For FSN, potato sales have been up vs. a year ago. We have created an inspiring potato portfolio of product lines, under the Side Delights brand name, that appeal to several types of potato consumers, satisfying multiple need states; value, convenience, all-in-one side dish, gourmet, single-serve, organic, etc.,” she said. “This comprehensive offering, along with award-winning packaging, grabs the shopper’s eye and pulls them into trying something new or to remembering how much they love to have potatoes at dinner at home.”
While Triou noted there is no magic pill to be successful in the industry, in her experience, she would highlight consumer insight and customer service as being the most important traits.
“Insight into the needs/wants of the potato consumer. Trends impacting the consumer affect how they buy, cook and the level of satisfaction they gain from their choices,” she said. “At FSN, we study the potato consumer, leverage lifestyle trends and aim to surprise and delight the potato shopper.”
FSN partners are customer service professionals. Beyond the farming, they deliver satisfaction to their customers via outstanding, trend-setting products, customized assortment and competitive insights to grow their business.
“We believe, ‘If you know more, you’ll grow more.’ With FSN, not only will you always know exactly what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from, you will also know why it makes sense to make those buys based on the competitive landscape,” Triou said. “This type of knowledge is critical for success in today’s ever increasing competitive landscape.”
Recent trends FSN has seen impact the potato category include convenience (easy prep, quick to cook), global flavor exploration, organic, gourmet varieties, petite sizes, single-serve/portion control, and nutrition.
“Potatoes have fought back against the misleading information of the anti-carb days,” Triou said. “Consumer magazines, websites and even Doctor Oz are now talking positively about our tasty, versatile, nutrient-dense vegetable in ways that give permission back to consumers to eat potatoes again.”
Package trends have included recyclable, sustainable, “do not harm” packaging, and packaging basics are still in vogue such as those that are colorful, tells a story, breaks through the clutter, and is harmonious within the brand. Packaging that performs a function is also trending, such as the type of packaging FSN uses on its Side Delights Steamables (micro-perferated bags for use in the microwave).
FSN recently completed its third food blogger challenge, #potatapowerbowl featuring Side Delights Steamables potatoes, leveraging the growing popularity of “bowls.”
“Based on consumer studies, bowls were one of the hottest food and beverage trends for the year, with 2017 being called ‘The Year of Food Bowls,’” Triou said. “Bloggers were challenged to create recipes for a one-bowl meal with any form of potatoes as the base (mashed, smashed, hash brown, diced, fries, scalloped, etc.), layered with protein, more vegetables and whatever else inspired the blogger.”
Some of the bloggers’ most creative recipes included the Savory Potato Breakfast Bowl, the classic Twice Baked Potato Bowl, and the Nacho Potato Power Bowl — just in time for Super Bowl entertaining. The recipes can be viewed at www.SideDelights.com.