Wal-Mart is expected to begin testing the Skinny Potato in May, says Scott McDulin, vice president of Schmieding Produce Co. LLC. The 100-calorie Skinny Potato offers smaller portions with 4- to 6-ounce spuds. ( Schmieding Produce Co. LLC )

A small product is about to get a potentially giant boost.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — the nation’s largest retailer — is expected to begin testing the Skinny Potato in May, said Scott McDulin, vice president of Schmieding Produce Co. LLC, Springdale, Ark.

“I talked to their category manager two weeks ago, and he loved the idea,” McDulin said, who added that the test will be in Wal-Mart stores served by the retailer’s Dallas distribution center.

The idea behind the Skinny Potato is a response to the fact that some consumers have shied away from russet potatoes while trying to cut carbs.

McDulin said most russets packed in 5-pound bags are 5 to 9 ounces each. The 100-calorie Skinny Potato offers smaller portions with 4- to 6-ounce spuds.

Schmieding introduced the product, packed in 3-pound bags, in January at a time when many consumers were starting New Year’s diets.

Although the timing seemed right for consumers, McDulin acknowledged that it wasn’t for many retailers, who already had set their planograms for the winter.

McDulin said another Arkansas-based retailer — Harps Food Stores Inc., Springdale, Ark. — already has had success with the new product, and a Wal-Mart test could be a big step for the item.

Russet sales have been declining for years, McDulin said, but they still represent 53% of the potato category. Little potatoes, convenience items and other specialty items are growing, but they still represent a small fraction of sales, he said. The best way to grow the potato category overall, he said, is to stabilize russet sales.

 
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