When a new market opens, Reece said marketing efforts typically begin with education and cultivating shipper and importer relationships.
“The first thing we do is develop and distribute educational material for importers and retailers to give them detailed information on proper storage and handling techniques. We tell them what each variety is and how it’s best used,” Reece said.
Then, meetings and trade missions
are scheduled to help exporters develop relationships.
When the Philippine market opened up this year, the board scheduled a trade mission for shippers to go to the new market and a reverse mission for importers to visit potato operations in the U.S.
“It’s really impressive to international buyers to see the technology of potato production in the U.S. because it’s far more advanced than other markets,” Reece said.
Trade representatives stationed in new markets keep open lines of communication with buyers. They answer questions about table stock potatoes, and help with developing sales relationships.
In addition, sample shipments can be useful.
“We recently sent a sample shipment with several varieties of fresh potatoes to distribute to different retailer and foodservice outlets so they could evaluate them and determine which would meet their customers’ needs,” Reece said.
In more mature markets, Reece said the board focuses on transferring concepts from U.S. trends and best practices, implementing as much domestic information as possible.
“We try to implement cross-merchandising, point-of-sale materials, organizing displays so all types of potatoes are together, and just moving some of those concepts to international markets,” she said.
Specifics are changed for each market.
“We may tweak some things and make adjustments, but we try to use as many of those techniques as possible,” Reece said.
As a result of these efforts, potato exports have increased in the past few years. In the 2008-09 season, the U.S. exported 282,110 metric tons of fresh potatoes. In 2012-13, 456,366 metric tons were shipped.