Variety spices up the potato business, marketers say.

“Popularity of different varieties depends on region of the country and other dynamics,” said Tim Huffcutt, marketing director with the Bancroft, Wis.-based Russet Potato Exchange Inc.

Fingerling potatoes, for example, perform well on the East and West coasts, Huffcutt said.

“RPE developed a Party Potatoes concept for its Wisconsin fingerling crop, an item that is easy to grill or roast by simply cutting the potato in half and seasoning,” Huffcutt said.

“Regardless of the preparation method, fingerling Party Potatoes are easily paired with dipping sauces when tailgating and at holiday gatherings or Super Bowl parties.”

Friesland, Wis.-based Alsum Farms & Produce, which has focused its marketing efforts on retail, is working to develop foodservice markets for a Wisconsin russet potato, said Christine Lindner, national sales and marketing manager.

It helps that the potato market is stronger this year than last, she said.

“We will have good supply of baker russets available,” she said.

The new crop presents retailers with an opportunity to promote non-russet varieties, said Ralph Schwartz, vice president of sales for Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Potandon Produce.

“There’s plenty of gold and reds coming out of the West,” he said.

Point-of-sale materials help consumers make good choices, said Andreas Trettin, marketing director with Monte Vista, Colo.-based MountainKing Potato.

“We work with retailers to support them in custom POS and/or marketing on social media,” he said.

This year’s crop should be easier to market than others because volumes are down on some sizes, said Ryan Wahlen, sales manager with Aberdeen, Idaho-based Pleasant Valley Potato Inc.

For red potatoes, smaller sizes seem to be gaining sales momentum, said Keith Goven, fresh sales manager with Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold Farms.

“That part of the segment is going to continue to grow, but let’s not forget the red potato market in general continues to be an expanding one,” he said. “In the next five years, there’s going to be some really exciting merchandising opportunities.”

Black Gold promoted its reds through its Redventure campaign for more than a year.

 
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