Potato board gets aggressive on health messages - The Packer

Potato board gets aggressive on health messages

03/13/2014 04:46:00 PM
Chris Koger

U.S. Potato BoardCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Potato Board isn’t shy about raising the topic: Are potatoes a fattening worthless starch with empty calories?

That question is displayed prominently on the group’s website, and while the site demonstrates why that’s far from the truth, the board continues to fight that perception. It’s one of the main goals that domestic marketing manager Meredith Myers has this year, and it’s an issue discussed at the board’s 2014 annual meeting March 10-13 at the Broadmoor Hotel.

“We have gone head-on this year with battling the myth that potatoes are fattening,” Myers said. “… We’re not apologizing for anything. We’re getting out there and telling consumers that potatoes are not bad for you.”

The health message is also focused on dietitians through what she dubs the Weight Management Roadshow, a series of presentations with dietitian consultant Kathie Beals.

The next one is March 21-23 at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Weight Management Symposium in St. Louis.

Myers said it’s important that the potato board’s health message is pervasive in many forums, from direct to consumer social media campaigns and programs for retailers and foodservice operators. It’s a key component of the board’s partnership with Lisa Lillien, aka blogger Healthy Girl.

In breakout sessions focusing on domestic marketing programs, the board used an Academy Awards theme, “The Spudlys.”

In the public relations segment, Kris Caputo-Hurley from Fleishman-Hillard said Hungry Girl, who has a daily e-mail with more than 1.2 million subscribers, is a nutrition influencer. The board provided the blogger with nutrition facts to use when promoting potatoes.

“We’re not just saying to tell everybody that potatoes are good for you because we’re asking you to,” Caputo-Hurley said about the group’s directive to Hungry Girl. “There’s real science behind it.”

While the potato board hosts events for chefs to highlight the versatility of potatoes, as well as the variety available, the health message is a stronger component of the foodservice agenda.

“We’re looking to increase the usage of potatoes in foodservice by driving innovation with fresh and healthy sides, salads and entrees,” Myers said. “It’s not just how decadent we can make our potatoes, it’s how can we make them delicious, innovative and heathy.”

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