The Idaho Potato Commission expects another year of big growth in its retail display contest, and also plans more outreach to Hispanics.
The Eagle, Idaho-based commission’s annual retail display contest has been around for a quarter of a century, but it’s grown in recent years like it was the new kid on the block, said Frank Muir, president and CEO of the commission.
“Before 2005, we averaged 600 displays. From 2000 to 2012, it was up to 2,000. Now we’re at more than 4,500 displays. We took a program that was 25 years old and made it bigger, stronger and better.”
And it’s not done growing, Muir said.
“We’re working with major retailers that aren’t participating and realize they have to get engaged.”
The commission’ retail marketing efforts in the 2014-15 season also will include a continuation of the Idaho industry’s efforts to reach out more to Hispanic consumers, Muir said.
In the past year, he said, the commission wrapped up extensive market research on Hispanic potato buyers.
“We found that Hispanic customers tend to be more brand-loyal, and they spend a higher percentage of their income on food.”
Commission marketers now have new presentation kits to give to owners of Hispanic grocery stores, encouraging them to tap into that brand awareness by carrying the “premium potato brand,” Muir said.
Retail demand for fingerlings is picking up, as evidenced by a new Idaho Potato Commission cross-marketing program with Beringer wines, said Robert Tominaga, president of Heyburn, Idaho-based Southwind Farms, which grows and ships fingerlings only.
Under the promotion, which also includes other potato varieties, if you buy a bottle of Beringer at retail, you get a discount on Idaho fingerlings.
“It kind of shows how specialty potatoes are gaining traction,” Tominaga said.
And that demand is by no means limited to high-end retailers. Southwind counts Roundy’s and IGA stores in the Midwest supplied by its distributor partner Caito Foods among its retailer customers.