Scottish tattie hits US shelves at Walmart

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A Scottish potato producer is targeting growth in the US market, after partnering with supermarket giant Walmart to supply its Rooster brand of potatoes.

The deal by Airdrie-based Albert Bartlett – which employs 700 full time staff in Scotland with further outreach to farmers and distributors around the UK – is the company’s first in the US market and will see the Albert Bartlett Rooster range being stocked in selected stores across Colorado and Georgia from October before being rolled out to stores in multiple states in 2013.

The company announced details of the launch while taking part in a Scottish Development International trade mission to Chicago, led by the First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson.

The First Minister said:

“It is inspiring to see a long-standing, traditional Scottish company develop so confidently and dramatically in today’s market, where Scottish food and drink exports are booming. The Albert Bartlett Rooster brand has become very familiar to Scottish consumers and this deal with Walmart will now see the range take on a truly global scale. It is another example of a quality Scottish product being made available for all to enjoy and comes just after another successful Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight when we celebrate our natural larder.”

John Hicks, VP Sales and Marketing, Albert Bartlett USA, described the move as “exciting” and added:

“We have been working on the project for over four years, having received fantastic support from Walmart since our very early discussions we are now excited to see how the Walmart consumer responds and are confident that we can gain a strong and loyal following as we have done in the UK.”

Scott Dray, Director, Produce-Walmart, said:

“It is always exciting to bring our customers something new, unique and quality, we have been excited by the Albert Bartlett product since first trying it in the UK and now having tested and sampled US produced product we are delighted by the consistency achieved. The taste profile of the product is fantastic and we are confident that if we can get our customers to try it once they will come back for more.”

In preparation for launching into the US market, Albert Bartlett first introduced tissue culture from Scotland to North America back in 2008 and have been multiplying the seed of the Rooster variety over the past four years.

Albert Bartlett’s innovative approach, which in effect has seen them export their intellectual property, enables them to produce the product in the US with local farmers and packers, bringing benefit to local economies.

Working with their US partner MountainKing and other leading local US farmers, the company carried out extensive growing trials across the USA and based on the results focused initial production in Colorado and Idaho.  Next year, the company plans to extend distribution across the US as it multiplies crop production and introduces new growing areas including California, Oregon and Washington.

Albert Bartlett opened its first US office in Denver earlier this year to manage the launch and expansion of their activity in North America. The company is one of 11 companies participating in the trade mission to the US which aims to raise the profile of Scottish food and drink companies in the US.

Lena Wilson, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: 

“We’ve seen phenomenal growth of Scottish food and drink exports with 60 per cent growth over the past five years.  The US continues to be one of the biggest markets for Scottish companies – overall food and drink exports to the US increased by 30 per cent last year, with strong growth in the premium grocery market.

“We’re working with more and more companies like Albert Bartlett and helping them to tap into the huge interest and enthusiasm by consumers around the world for the provenance of food and its heritage, origin and uniqueness.”

Scottish Development International has supported Albert Bartlett in its international growth plans for several years, including helping them access new customers through attendance at a major international trade show. SDI will continue to work closely with Albert Bartlett both in Scotland and overseas, to support their continued international growth.

Albert Bartlett is the UK’s leading fresh potato brand, supplying 20 per cent of the fresh potatoes in the retail market, supplying major retailers with own label, premium exclusive and branded products.

The Albert Bartlett deal follows the announcement by global company Sigma Aldrich on Thursday that they are expanding their operations in Scotland, with the development of a new powder manufacturing facility on their Irvine site – supported by a £1.5 million grant from Scottish Enterprise.

While in Chicago, the First Minister is undertaking a programme of business engagements and on Friday delivered a keynote speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and met city mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The First Minister will play a major role in the handover ceremony at the close of play on Sunday, September 30, when he will receive the Silver Putter which denotes Scotland taking over the tournament preparations for Gleneagles 2014.

One of the largest sporting events on the planet, the Ryder Cup is expected to inject £100m into the local and wider Scottish economy during the week of the tournament alone.  In all, more than 250,000 spectators from all over the globe are expected to visit Gleneagles to watch the event, with millions more able to watch the action on television in more than 180 countries.