County AG Report: 99 Restaurant’s Potatoes

County AG Report: 99 Restaurant’s Potatoes
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - We recently told you 99 restaurants plan to use Maine potatoes for their more than 100 locations across the northeast. Irving farms in caribou was able to secure the contract with the restaurant chain as businesses continues to bounce back from the pandemic. In this week’s county ag report, Rob Koenig has more about the deal, and what Irving Farms hopes the deal will bring to the county.

“So, we send them 80 counts, which 80 count means there’s 80 potatoes per 50 pounds. So, we send them generally about 400 to 800 per week throughout the season.”

Irving farms supplies potatoes to many restaurants and grocery stores across the state. When talks began before the pandemic about getting caribou russets into 99 restaurants, Irving was hopeful the opportunity would help widen the market and availability of the potatoes.

“Of course, COVID hit, so that kind of stalled things out a little bit, but once COVID got back, and people got confidence to be able to go out, and the food service industry started doing well again, we rekindled those talks and we were able to, we sent them down multiple samples and they had chefs go through all of their samples, and the rest was history. The caribou russet does really well frying, baking. They use them for their potato skins as well, so we’re really excited about it.”

Having a versatile potato is crucial in the restaurant industry since it means not having to keep a wide variety of potatoes for different uses. While this is a great opportunity for Irving farms itself, Robbie Irving also says it’s an exciting opportunity for the community.

“Anytime we can get Maine potatoes into these restaurants, especially with a variety like the caribou russet, that really stands on its own. I mean, it’s a great potato for any type of food you want to serve, or any way you want to prepare it. So we’re super excited, and hopefully other growers can get some Maine potatoes down to these restaurants.”

Irving says the farm will continue to provide potatoes for the restaurants as long as the farm has potatoes, but is unsure if they will be able to provide potatoes for the entire year.

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