Real Food. Real Performance.

New campaign highlights potatoes’ ability to enhance athletic performance

Published online: May 28, 2018 Articles Sarah Reece, Global Marketing Manager, Potatoes USA
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This column appears in the June 2018 issue of Potato Grower.

What are you eating? That’s what Potatoes USA will be asking consumers when it launches its new campaign designed to reach athletes. Talking to athletes represents a huge opportunity for the potato industry. Sixteen percent of the population in the U.S.—some 30 million people—exercise at least two times per week and participate in competitive events. That performance athlete segment of the population will be the initial target audience as Potatoes USA embarks on this new approach. Future efforts will drive to expand the audience from performance athletes to athletically active consumers, to everyday hardworking individuals looking to fuel their activities. 

Over the years, Potatoes USA has touted a variety of positive potato health benefits like potassium and vitamin C, but potatoes have a stronger story to tell. It is time to shift the conversation from giving people permission to eat potatoes to telling them why they should eat potatoes. No more apologizing! Through a process of analyzing potato characteristics and their implications, athletic performance was identified as the one lifestyle benefit that could strengthen the potato industry’s position in the marketplace.

To learn more about the exercise and nutrition habits of American adults, Potatoes USA conducted a full segmentation of the U.S. Some of the top findings include:

  • America’s favorite methods of exercise include fitness walking, running and jogging, weight training and cycling.
  • Athletes most often try to incorporate protein, fiber and vitamin C—all nutrients contained in potatoes—into their diet.
  • Thirty-eight percent of active people use potatoes in relation to exercise, a similar rate to beans and brown rice.
  • Potatoes rank fourth as a top-of-mind source of carbohydrates for fuel behind pasta, bread and rice, giving potatoes lots of opportunity for growth.
  • Active people prefer eating naturally grown food over processed.

Potatoes are real food that will help athletes drive their performance as they strive to reach their goals. The “What Are You Eating?” campaign reintroduces potatoes as performance food and will highlight the way athletes fuel. The campaign will capitalize on the internal competition of athletes. It will celebrate moments of personal achievement and showcase the intensity and drive of athletes, all with the help of potatoes as fuel. The campaign will respond to the question, “What Are You Eating?” with the response, “Potatoes. Real food. Real performance,” and will call out key potato nutrients such as carbohydrates, potassium and protein.

The “What Are You Eating?” campaign will launch in July 2018, will be integrated across all of Potatoes USA’s marketing programs, and will include social media advertising, nutrition and athletic performance influencer education, media relations, recipe and content development, consumer and influencer events, and strategic partnerships. Imagine athletes meal prepping for the week and including potatoes in their planned diet, potatoes being served on a race course to refuel athletes during a long run or bike ride, seeing potatoes alongside other performance foods in athletic stores and supermarkets, or elite athletes sharing how they use potatoes to help fuel their performance.   

Potatoes USA has already started engaging with athletes online, in the media and by aligning with key events like Ironman and runDisney. Athletes have loved learning about potatoes and performance. Athlete perceptions of potatoes are already changing; athletes love including potatoes in their pre-, during and post-workout diets. 

So, the question is, what are you eating?