Several commodity boards have found working with the foodservice segment to be a good way to create awareness for their product.
The Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission works closely with restaurant chains to determine how potatoes can best fit their menus, said Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice.
“We approach the chain, work with their culinary group, analyze their menu and look where Idaho potatoes might fit it,” he said.
Commission representatives typically present up to two dozen menu ideas and then ask the chain to select a half dozen, which a commission prepares in the test kitchen or company headquarters.
The commission also works with chains in other ways.
“At Wingstop (Restaurants Inc., Richardson, Texas), years ago, we provided a french fry expert to teach them best methods for doing fresh-cut fries from Idaho,” Odiorne said.
This year, he met with four officers from the company during a tour of growing areas and discussed partnering on merchandising promotions, such as in-unit signage.
The result was a promotional piece with the Wingstop logo explained to restaurant customers how the fries are “Cut from fresh, never-frozen Idaho potatoes every day in every restaurant.”
The commission, which contacts eight to 12 chains each year, has been successful getting new items on the menu, creating a need and making it essential for the chain to continue to stock Idaho potatoes, Odiorne said.
The Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission works with select restaurants, chefs, culinary organizations and schools across the country to expand eating occasions for fresh grapes from California, said Cindy Plummer, vice president of domestic marketing.