In response to criticism from the Idaho Potato Commission, the U.S. Potato Board has created a new set of rules for the use of its Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed logo.
But the commission says it doesn’t go far enough.
The biggest change governs the accepted size of the logo on retail bags, according to a recent document sent to industry members by the Denver-based board.
The Goodness Unearthed name cannot be larger than the logo or seal of a particular potato-producing state, according to guidelines approved by the board’s executive committee.
Existing packaging with logos that are too large may be used up under a grandfather clause.
The commission has said it had been promised that Goodness Unearthed would not be used on retail bags. The logo was created to be a trademark, not a brand, the commission argues. But its use by some shippers, who display the logo prominently on bags, transformed it into a brand that rivaled the Idaho brand, according to the commission.
Board officials have said that Goodness Unearthed was always intended to be used on bags.
Tim O’Connor, the board’s executive officer, called the new guidelines a “win-win” for Idaho and for the rest of the potato industry.
“We didn’t make any changes that are detrimental to having an effective nutritional campaign,” O’Connor said. “It was important for us to find a solution that’s good for the entire industry.”
But on the issue of logo size, Frank Muir, the commission’s president and chief executive officer, said the commission wants more specific guidelines, with size limitations in inches or centimeters.
Limiting the size to a state logo’s size is meaningless, Muir said.
“We’re the only state that puts logos on our bags, so it doesn’t mean anything to us.”
In addition to limiting the size of the Goodness Unearthed logo on bags, under the new guidelines, if the logo appears on bags, it must be accompanied by nutritional information or attached to the package’s nutritional facts panel.
Also, a trademark review committee has been established to review each application for use of the logo. Muir said the commission wants to see more details on how such a committee would be formed and how it would police its decisions.
Another contentious issue has been board members’ communications with retailers about use of the logo. According to a guideline set out in the board document, “the USPB will have no proactive communication or suggest the use of (the Goodness Unearthed logo) to retailers.”
The use of the word “proactive” is troublesome, Muir said. It leaves the door open, he said, for board members to meet with retailers. In such a meeting, Muir said, retailers could ask to use the logo, without board members “proactively” lobbying for it.
“We’re asking that they do not meet with retailers, period,” he said.