Nutrition education ranks as top priority for potato growers, ass

03/10/2014 03:29:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

The nutrition message for potatoes is still a strong focus for promotions. Growers and associations have both placed nutrition education at the top of their priority lists.

“This year, our overarching strategic imperative is to communicate that potatoes are not fattening,” said Meredith Myers, U.S. Potato Board public relations manager.

The Denver-based board has several audience-specific goals, although the basic message is the same. Marketing efforts revolve around debunking the myth that potatoes are unhealthy and fattening.

“When talking to retailers, our message is a little different than when we’re talking to consumers, although our consistent message is that potatoes are versatile, tasty, convenient, and a nutritional powerhouse,” Myers said.

One important audience group for the nutritional message of potatoes are athletes.

The U.S. Potato Board also works to convey their nutritional message to athletes, although they don’t have a dedicated program for this.

“We offer information on the importance of carbs and other nutrition messages,” Myers said.

She said the Olympics were a good time to highlight potatoes as being a good fuel source for athletes.

The board also focuses on communicating its healthy message in other arenas.

For the retail-specific arena, Myers said the board provides category optimization programs and other resources.

The board also works closely with registered dietitians to convey the health message to consumers.

“We empower those RDs in a number of different ways,” she said. “In order to support those folks, we need to offer resources that are immediately usable at the point of sale.”

The board offers consumer-facing recipe cards, information sheets about weight management, and information on potassium and nutrition,” Myers said.

For foodservice, the board’s annual Culinary Institute of America event at the end of October has influenced menu adjustments for the past several months.

“The legislation that requires restaurants to post calorie-counts on menus gave us the opportunity to show chefs that potatoes are actually a low-calorie option,” Myers said.

Since the event, Myers says the board has seen countless new potato recipes as well as several significant efforts to include more potatoes on major menus.

“One distributor added a potato section to a weekly farm report. One university chef added potato items to his special events menu, and a major retailer developed a new potato salad for its prepared food section,” she said.



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