No Single Grower

Published in the December 2011 Issue Published online: Dec 08, 2011
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The potato industry's largest problems are difficult matters, such as reversing declining demand, reducing acrylamide levels in potato products, defending potato products in the obesity debates and reconnecting potatoes with consumers whose lifestyles and meal preferences have drifted away from traditional potato meals. Responding to these challenges requires the entire industry working together. No single grower, processor or organization can resolve these critical issues on its own. We have made significant progress by combining our efforts, here are some examples:

 Market Access-Taking an industry approach to obtaining access to new foreign markets for all U.S. potatoes has been a key element to achieving 56 percent growth in the volume of U.S. potato and potato product exports from 2000-2010.

 Acrylamide-Targeting an SCRI grant to reduce acrylamide formation in potato products as an industry priority resulted in acquiring $7.7 million in new research funds, and national variety trialing programs funded by processors and grower organizations. These are beginning to identify promising new clones that result in lower acrylamide levels in finished potato products.

 Demand-The combined initiatives of everyone in the industry to deliver the potato's nutrition story to consumers has lead to measurable improvements in consumers' attitudes about potatoes. Along with marketing activities, potatoes have been repositioned as a good fit for consumers' family meals and have resulted in increased in-home potato consumption.

 Issues Management-Delivering a clear message from the industry in response to issues, rather than separate and different voices, has minimized the impact of numerous media stories.

These results were not achieved by accident. Detailed strategies and tactics were formulated and executed to address each problem and everyone did their part. The industry can expect more success as we continue to work together on important problems and opportunities