Exciting prospects for NZ potato chips
MEDIA RELEASE – 18 February 2013
From the heartland to the USA – exciting prospects for NZ potato chips
A $15,000 travel grant from the Lincoln University Foundation has proved of real benefit to the farming and potato chips business of South Canterbury couple Ray and Adrianne Bowan, who won the Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition in 2011.
“Raymond and I took a long time to decide where we wanted to travel,” Adrianne said. “We wanted to utilise the award to reflect our farming business as well as our new factory business. In the finish we visited Asia and the United States and the knowledge we brought back will help us progress both businesses.”
The Bowans farm 1214 hectares in Orari and
197 hectares at Coldstream on the North Bank of the
Rangitata River. With 95 per cent of their farm irrigated
they grow potatoes, cereals, barley, maize and grass seeds,
plus over-wintering dairy cows. In 2009 when a potato chip
factory in Washdyke closed down the Bowans bought the
factory and established Heartland Potato Chips which have
enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity through the New Zealand
supermarket retail scene.
In Singapore the Bowans visited supermarkets to get a feel for the local trade and then spent more than a day meeting supermarket sales teams.
“We were surprised at the level of interest shown in Heartland Potato Chips. And, while we have decided not to look at the export market for now, so we can concentrate on managing the growth in our New Zealand sales, the experience was invaluable and something we can store up for the future.”
During their travel to the United States, the Bowans looked at potato farming, machinery, spraying programmes and irrigation at Presque Isle in Maine. They also caught up with potato agronomist Dr Steve Johnson, who spent some time in South Canterbury area a few years ago. Dr Johnson works with local farmers trying to better the growth and yield from potato crops.
The winning couple also visited a large grower of potatoes, onions and carrots and caught up with a student at Cornell University, which has a close association with Lincoln University.
“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to use the travel award at our discretion. Using it to cover both avenues of our business was important to us as it was both parts of our business that contributed to our winning the award in 2011,” Adrianne said.
Chair of the Lincoln University Foundation Board of Trustees, Ben Todhunter said the Bowans’ experience is just what the South Island Farmer of the Year award is all about.
“Through creating opportunities for excellent farmers to grow their businesses, bring knowledge back to New Zealand and utilise that knowledge for the benefit of the agricultural industry here, we believe the South Island Farmer of the Year award makes a valuable contribution to New Zealand’s agricultural performance.”
All winners of the Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award not only receive a travel grant, they are supported to host a field day so that others can learn from the excellence and innovation that earned the title.
The Bowans held their field day early in 2012 and on Wednesday 6 March this year, the 2012 winner, Synlait Farms, will hold its field day.
“One of the wonderful things about participating in this competition,” Adrianne says, “is that the knowledge sharing goes both ways. We were delighted to talk to other agricultural people at our field day about what we have done, but we have also learned so much from talking to others, especially during the exercise of our travel grant. We would encourage anyone to go to the Synlait field day and/or consider entering the competition themselves when the 2013 entries are called for.”