To increase overall potato sales, RPE Inc. plans a consumer sweepstakes this fall using its branded Tasteful Selections specialty potatoes.

The contest is set for September through November. It will use Facebook and retail display materials to drive consumer participation, according to a news release from Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE.

A retail display contest is planned to encourage store managers to promote the contest.

Russell Wysocki, RPE president and chief executive officer, said in the release the promotion allows RPE to connect with consumers while helping retail partners improve category performance.

The sweepstakes will be promoted on packaging for Tasteful Selections’ Ruby Sensations and Honey Gold varieties. According to RPE, the branded line is available at more than 8,000 stores nationwide.

Consumers will have the chance to win $2,500 cash, a grill package, Kindle Fire tablets and other prizes.

Potato branding on the riseRPE sweepstakes spotlights potato branding

The RPE use of a sweepstakes to focus consumer attention on Tasteful Selections is just one example of how branding is becoming more of a factor in the potato category in the U.S.

The recent announcement that Scotland-based Albert Bartlett & Sons Ltd. will have U.S.-grown Rooster brand red potatoes in U.S. Wal-Mart stores this fall has potato marketers talking more about branding.

At the 8th World Potato Congress in late May, presenters reported that asRPE sweepstakes spotlights potato branding much as 90% of potatoes in the United Kingdom are sold fresh under a varietal label, which is twice the level marketed with that method in the U.S.

Chris Wada, director of marketing and product development for Wada Farms, Idaho Falls, Idaho, said the entry of the Rooster brand into the U.S. will be a good test to gauge how consumers respond to branding.

Wada said he sees a definite push in the U.S. toward potato branding with the ultimate goal of de-commoditizing the category.