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A good story can help sell potatoes to modern consumers

Some potato shippers continue to develop less traditional production areas to fill gaps between storage supplies and fresh crops, like the Indiana Red from Black Gold Farms, which bridges its Missouri and North Dakota fresh red potato shipments.

This follows a strong consumer preference at many retail venues for regional product as well as organics.

Harris Cutler, president of Race-West Company, Clarks Summit, PA, says there are three significant trends in potatoes: “The first thing, I’d say, is local; the second is organic; and the third is knowing your farmer.”

As Cutler acknowledges, for an expanding cadre of consumers, knowing a grower’s backstory is just as important as the item itself.

This ongoing trend of storytelling is a powerful marketing tool, as consumers want to know more about growing practices, harvests, packaging, and what role green measures or sustainability play in the production cycle.

The healthful, low-fat properties of tubers are equally important in promotional efforts.

Paul Dolan, general manager at Associated Potato Growers Inc., Grand Forks, ND, is quick to point out, “It’s not the potato that’s fattening, it’s what you put on it,” he says.

“We’re definitely making strides in connecting with consumers through our national and state organizations to get the message out that potatoes are a very nutritious vegetable.”

Suppliers are also getting help from PotatoesUSA, which launched a new “Real Food, Real Performance” marketing campaign to position potatoes as a central part of a healthy, athletic lifestyle.

State potato marketing boards are also connecting potatoes with active lifestyles, including a cobranded ad campaign with the Idaho Potato Commission that includes television spots on Ironman and marathon competitions.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.