As the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association presents a new look for outsiders, there also may be a hope to bring insiders closer together.
The East Grand Forks, Minn.-based association, which represents 250 growers in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, recently introduced a revamped logo, which is designed to be more instructive to consumers who aren’t familiar with a potato region that ships about 4 million bags of spuds in an average year.
“What it means to me is the association is trying to draw a new face, trying to reunite the Red River Valley as a whole,” said Paul Dolan, general manager of Grand Forks, N.D.-based Associated Potato Growers Inc.
The logo sends a strong message that Red River Valley spuds are a natural product, Dolan said.
“It’s trying to show the naturally grown product in the valley with nonirrigated potatoes,” he said.
The new image is a vast improvement over the old, Dolan said.
“When I look at that picture, it shows me more look of agriculture and nature in a more natural way than the old logo did,” he said.
A new look may bring more attention to valley potatoes, said Randy Boushey, president and chief executive officer of East Grand Forks-based A&L Potato Co.
“I think they’re trying to get a little bit more brand recognition out of that logo, and I think their intentions are that multiple shippers can have the same label, and we can get more of a uniformity coming out of the valley,” he said.
A single, unifying brand isn’t necessarily a good thing, Boushey said.
“For us to pack in a label that’s the same logo as my neighbor up the street and the same as my neighbor down the street, you lose a little bit of your own identity in that process,” he said.
The umbrella brand likely works only in a “perfect-world” situation,” Boushey said.
“Being in the imperfect world in which we live, sometimes our own vanities will be in the way of our way of our betterment,” he said.
Some association members have talked about marketing under the association logo, said Steve Tweten, president and chief executive officer of Buxton, N.D.-based NoKota Packers.
“I know there has been talk to turn it into a Red River Valley brand,” Tweten said.
The logo is available for all members to use, even secondarily, said Dave Moquist, a partner in and sales manager of O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc. in Crystal, N.D.
“They’ve developed 5-pound bags that this brand can be used on, and it can either be a tag on a Kwik Lok, or it can be the bag itself,” Moquist said.
If, for example, a retail customer wants the logo on its private-label bags, that can be done, Moquist said.
Even if shippers equally use the brand, it still presents a unified face to the buying world, said Keith Groven, a salesman for Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold Farms.
“The biggest thing we want to represent is the best quality red potatoes come out of the Red River Valley,” he said.
There’s an edifying aspect to the logo, as well, Groven said.
“There are some things that make our potatoes unique, and in the past it has been difficult for people to identify with our growing region, and there hasn’t been a unified effort to promote where the product was coming from,” he said.
The new look’s use of “a little more color” will attract attention, said Cory Seim, a salesman for Hoople, N.D.-based Northern Valley Growers.
The potatoes will do the rest, he said.
“People remember Red River Valley potatoes have a taste that I don’t think anybody else can compete with. They’ll remember the product,” he said.