The creators of a massive, inflatable potato cellar that recently hit the market promise their product will cut costs dramatically for growers in need of short-term storage while their spuds await processing.
Idaho growers, however, say the Airstore, designed to hold 900 tons of potatoes for up to eight weeks, could fall flat locally.
The storage facility was developed by three European companies, Preva Produce Ltd., Lamb Weston Meijer and Lindstrand Technologies Ltd. It's installed in modules, can be assembled by a group of four people and inflates in less than two hours, Preva's managing director Ian Anderson said in a press release.
Anderson told Capital Press American growers can purchase an Airstore through the U.S. manufacturing facility of Lindstrand Technologies.
"The store is fully functional and can replicate the requirements and capabilities of expensive permanent installations," Anderson said in the press release. "The cost savings generated are considerable with very favorable payback periods on the initial investment."
Airstore inflatable potato storage
The product has a 20-year life expectancy and sells for just over $140,000. It has no trusses, wires or frames, and it's 22 meters long and 4 meters tall at its highest point.
Klaren Koompin, who grows potatoes for the processed market in the American Falls area, believes growers in Idaho don't have much difficulty finding storage.
"I think 15 years ago when acreage and yield was extremely variable they would have have been more important," Koompin said when asked to assess the viability of the Airstore. "In today's market, where acreage is designed to fit the demand not only on the processed but also on the fresh, I do not see that being an absolute necessity."
"It seems like there's always a cellar sitting empty somewhere a guy can go to. I don't see them springing up more than here or there in an isolated deal."