In the retail breakout, with a “Lord of the Rings” theme, Don Ladhoff, “Ladhoff the Gray,” president of consultant FreshSmartSolutions, said potatoes see volume and sales growth after he visits with retailers. He schedules 20 of these outreach meetings a year, and just signed an agreement to help Wakefern Food Corp. stores with the potato category.
“They have thrown open the door to leverage potatoes across all perishable departments,” he said.
Board president and CEO Blair Richardson, who succeeded Tim O’Connor last summer when O’Connor left to join Avocados from Mexico after 14 years with the potato group, said he’s spent a lot of time meeting with industry members the past seven months.
As the group starts work on its next five-year plan this fall, Richardson pledged transparency with the process and where the board spends its money.
Richardson said he’s establishing a new director of research and analysis, to provide more structure in that area. Currently, there’s no staff member responsible for the board’s $2.5 million research budget. The increased oversight will provide more research opportunities and could ensure research from individual states would be available to all growing regions.