(March 29) United Potato Growers of Idaho, Idaho Fresh-Pak Corp. and R.D. Offutt Co. have started a joint venture in the dehydrated potato business that could benefit the fresh market.

Jerry Wright, president and chief executive officer of Idaho Falls-based United Potato Growers of Idaho, said the as-yet-unnamed company could be the second-largest potato dehydrator in the U.S., with volume and sales projections of 300 million pounds valued at $185 million a year.

“It will have a stabilizing and balancing effect on the fresh market,” Wright said, “because it gives growers the opportunity to remove excess supplies that frequently disrupt fresh market distribution channels and create wide fluctuations in prices.”

Wright said U.S. dehydrators have excess capacity, and the consolidation will allow the new company to serve customers more effectively.

Wright said the new company had not yet named a chief executive officer. He said all three partners will have representation on the company’s board of directors.

United growers will own 40% of the new company, Wright said.