Our location in Southeast Idaho is an integral part of our equation for consistent quality. Mile-high valleys, warm days and cool nights, abundant water supplies, and sandy loam soils mixed with volcanic ash allow the region to be one of the leading potato baskets in the world. Eastern Idaho potatoes are higher in solids than potatoes grown anywhere else in North America. Our Idaho potatoes bake up fluffier, fry firmer, and mash up meatier than potatoes grown elsewhere in the country. Cutting-edge technology is used in both the planting and harvesting stages of potato production. For example, GPS systems are now used with planters for proper seed depth and spacing to start a field of quality Idaho potatoes.
To guarantee superior quality and comply with government regulations, each Idaho potato grower works closely with certified agronomists to build and maintain soil vitality through careful applications of fertilizer and pesticides.
Our promise of consistent quality is most evident within our new 98,000 square-foot fresh pack facility. It is here that every Idaho potato is checked to ensure complete customer satisfaction. As one of the largest fresh pack plants in eastern Idaho, our facility can grade, sort, and pack up to 1.5 million pounds of Idaho potatoes per day.
Potatoes arrive at the plant in all shapes and sizes. Whether coming from the field or storage, potatoes are still perishable vegetables and must be handled gently, from receiving to shipping. Using the latest in conveyer technology, the Idaho potatoes move through the plant rapidly yet gently, minimizing bruises. However, nothing can quite surpass human inspection. We employ some of the most experienced sorters in the industry whose hands-on experience completes the quality guarantee.
Packing takes place at our Wilcox Fresh warehouse in Rexburg, Idaho and other affiliates across the United States that share our ideal of quality and service. Here at Wilcox, potatoes are brought into the facility from the field or storage shed by large produce trucks that haul 25 tons, or more, of potatoes.
These trucks are brought into the warehouse where the potatoes are gently rolled into bins and enter a washing cycle to prepare them for sorting. Washing removes rocks, roots, and dirt, which is returned to the fields for recycling purposes. The Idaho potatoes move on to the sorting section of the warehouse where both experienced personnel and advanced technology sort through the produce as it travels on conveyer belts through several sorting stations. Potatoes are rerouted to the appropriate packing locations based on size, symmetric characteristics, weight, and other qualities. After multiple quality checks along the way, each potato finds itself in a bag, box, sack, carton, or bin. These packages are labeled and refrigerated to help maintain their freshness until trucks come to pick them up.
Once packed, our Idaho potatoes are ready to be shipped. We can load up to five semi-trucks and three refrigerator rail-cars simultaneously to ensure rapid delivery no matter what time of year it is. In addition, we electronically tag all of our shipments in order to quickly track down any problems a customer may have. Trucks leave packing facilities with proper climate control and sealed trailers to ensure a safe and fresh product.