Impacting the Buyer

The IPC's retail and foodservice marketing campaign

Published in the June 2012 Issue Published online: Jun 10, 2012 Frank Muir, IPC President and CEO

The Idaho Potato Commission 's (IPC) marketing initiatives are designed to remind consumers to look for the famous "Grown in Idaho" seal whenever they purchase potatoes. But that's not the full picture.

What many don't realize is that the IPC has a very active and effective marketing campaign specifically for retail and foodservice establishments to make sure that when consumers go and look for the famous seal or specifically ask for Idaho potatoes, they're available.

The IPC's retail and foodservice divisions each employ a talented team of professionals who travel tirelessly across the country to meet with customers, educate them about potatoes and provide many reasons for them to carry and/or serve Idaho potatoes. One of the most impactful ways has been through promotions that benefit the buyer, their customers, and, naturally, the IPC.

On the retail side, the IPC recently announced the winner of its 21st Annual Potato Lover's Month Retail Display Contest, the IPC's longest running promotion. Since its inception, this contest has become one of the most anticipated retail events in the entire produce industry. With a total of $150,000 in cash and prizes at stake, produce managers pull out all stops (and their glue guns) to build the most attention-grabbing display possible during the month of February (Potato Lover's Month). The displays must feature fresh and dehydrated Idaho potato products, Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blends and Molly McButter.

The best part about this promotion is that everyone's a winner.

 In 2011 we received 2,374 entries, the second-highest number of entries in the history of the promotion;

 one retailer experienced a 150 percent increase in sales; and

 all qualified entrants received a portable iPod docking system.

The foodservice promotions may not be as public as the Potato Lover's Month Retail Display Contest, but they are certainly just as impactful. Typically, several contests are run each year with each targeting a very specific group.

Currently, the IPC is running the "Ultimate Appetizer" recipe contest with members of the American Culinary Federation. This elite group of chefs is invited to submit their best Idaho potato appetizer, along with a photograph, for a chance to win the $1,500 grand prize. The first 75 qualified entrants receive a free Swiss Army watch and the winning recipe and chef will be recognized nationally through public relations initiatives.

In the fall, as a way to increase potato usage on college campuses, a contest was conducted with the Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services chefs. Twenty chefs were on a mission to transform Idaho potatoes into mouth-watering masterpieces with an international flair. The grand-prize winner received an iPad and the runner-up was awarded a gift card to Best Buy.

When the USDA was considering cutting back the amount of potatoes schools could serve to students each day, the IPC responded by holding a recipe contest to demonstrate how important potatoes are to school foodservice professionals from both cost and nutrition perspectives. The contest was a huge hit, and, fortunately, through intense lobbying efforts by the potato industry, the USDA reversed its decision to reduce potato usage in schools.

These promotions, and others that the IPC conducts, are well designed and thought out to make sure each and every person who comes in contact with one of these programs is impacted in some way, whether it's the shopper who sees a fantastic display and can't resist buying a bag of potatoes or a foodservice operator who rediscovers the convenience and versatility of using an Idaho potato product.

The U.S. marketplace is vast and varied and we are working diligently and efficiently to develop programs that resonate with all our customers.

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