(Nov. 21) A new nutrition-based marketing campaign will attempt to rescue fresh potatoes from the curse of the Atkins Diet once and for all.

While people continue to eat more fries, chips and other processed-potato products, per-capita consumption of fresh spuds has declined steadily in the past decade, said David Fraser, vice president of industry communications and policy for the Denver-based U.S. Potato Board.

Taking direct aim at reversing that trend is a new campaign spearheaded by the board, other potato organizations, individual shippers and the branding agency behind the Fruits and Veggies — More Matters campaign.

On Nov. 16, that coalition of industry leaders, known as the Fresh Demand Working Group, announced the launch of the campaign and a new slogan to go with it: “Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed.”

The Fresh Demand Working Group began meeting in late 2006 to discuss ways of boosting fresh potato sales. Members and the branding specialist they hired — New York-based Sterling Brands, which helped the Wilmington, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation come up with a new slogan and marketing campaign in 2006 — agreed that nutrition should remain the marketing focus, Fraser said.

To that end, the logo contains three health messages in smaller print below “Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed”: “45% Daily Supply of Vitamin C”; “Naturally Fat Free”; and “Full of Vitamins and Minerals.”

When Dick Okray, co-owner of Okray Family Farms Inc., Plover, Wis., saw the new logo, he liked it so much he printed a copy and stuck it on a wall in the company’s sales office.

“The Fresh Demand Working Group needs to be given a lot of credit for finally doing some scientific research that will hopefully get the message out about the great health benefits of potatoes,” he said. “Especially since potatoes have unjustly gotten such a bad rap with fad diets. It’s time to get away from the junk science.”

Frank Muir, chief executive officer of the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission, said the campaign should work well with Idaho’s own nationwide health-focused campaign.

“Idaho continues to move forward even more aggressively on its nutritional marketing campaign,” he said.

Between now and Jan. 15, the Fresh Demand Marketing Group will “work feverishly” on retail promotions, radio and print advertisements and other marketing pieces for the campaign, Fraser said.