Industry profile

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Fast facts

Name: Charlotte Bowan
Age: 37
Location: South Canterbury
Work: General Manager at Heartland Potato Chips
Grows: I don’t actually grow the potatoes these are grown by my father and brother. I manage the family owned business where we use the potatoes we grow and turn these into – Heartland Chips.

How did you first become involved in the potato industry?
Growing up on the farm I would spend my school holidays standing on the potato harvester getting cold and dusty.  I loved helping out either on the harvester or helping to bulk the potatoes into storage.  I am now fortunate enough to be involved in the family business.

What does your role involve, and what are your responsibilities?
I oversee the manufacturing side of the business where I am based at Heartland Chips.  My role of general manager is hugely varied and I am involved in all areas of the business from staff right through to product development.

What do you enjoy most about working in the potato industry and how do you maintain your enthusiasm?
I have met so many people from so many different working angles to potatoes. Every day is different and there is always a challenge which keeps me on my toes. Potato chips are an exciting end product of potatoes, so keeping up my enthusiasm is easy. 

What are the biggest challenges you face working in the industry, and how do you overcome them?
My view is going to be different from a growers view, but the biggest challenge I personally face in manufacturing is forecasting! Making sure we have enough to meet demand.

How do you raise public awareness of your brand and your potato varieties? What channels do you use?
With our end product being on the shelves in all major supermarkets, it is important to keep being innovative and create activity around the product, so that the brand awareness is lifted.
Heartland Chips use the regular digital channels of social media.

What new innovations, research and/or practices has your business implemented recently?
We constantly track data that we purchase to make sure that we are following the trends that are happening around NZ and the world

What are you doing differently to other growing operations?
Heartland products are all gluten free, palm oil free and low carbon foot print, with the factory less than 30km away from where the potatoes are grown. We’re proudly NZ owned and operated.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still fully involved in the family business and working for Heartland.

How do you think more young people could be encouraged to study and take up jobs in the potato industry?
There are many different opportunities within the industry – if farms were opened up and students shown the different channels early on through farm visits or factory tours, they would have a better understanding of what the career possibilities actually look like.