50 for 50: National Potato Promotion Board

Published online: Jan 04, 2021 Articles, 50 for 50
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition.

National Potato Promotion Board

Since being formed in 1972, the National Potato Promotion Board (NPPB) has taken on many of the challenges facing the U.S. potato industry and has adapted its approach and name to meet them.

The board was created to address the attacks on potato nutrition. One of NPPB’s first actions was to develop a nutrition label for fresh potatoes. Partnerships were also formed with the American Dietetic Association, Produce for Better Health and American Family Physicians, including robust potato nutrition education directed toward nutrition writers, school foodservice, medical professionals and many others.

The NPPB began international marketing in the 1980s and laid the foundation for over 300 percent growth in exports of frozen potato products with its innovative Fry Station Management program. Domestically, the board branched out from nutrition to focus on foodservice, including partnering with Wendy’s on its stuffed baked potato. The board also partnered with food manufacturers to introduce and expand potato salads at retail delis. 

In the 1990s, the international marketing programs expanded significantly beyond North Asia to include Southeast Asia and South America. In addition, all forms of potatoes—frozen, fresh, dehydrated and seed potatoes—were promoted internally. The NPPB sponsored the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team, laying the foundation of potatoes as a fuel for athletes. The domestic marketing programs focused on addressing consumers’ needs for convenience with recipes and cooking tips. 

The turn of the century saw a change of name to the United States Potato Board (USPB) to enhance the ability to market U.S. potatoes internationally and domestically. USPB significantly increased its focus on the retail sector and launched digital platforms, including a website to provide useful information to consumers. USPB also launched an industry-wide effort to increase the use of dehydrated potatoes in international food assistance programs.  

More recently, the board has undertaken many changes to serve U.S. growers better and to meet the needs of a wide range of audiences in the U.S. and international markets. The organization’s name has changed to Potatoes USA to appeal to both consumers and trade audiences worldwide. The international programs expanded into new markets such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Central America and the Middle East. Both internationally and domestically, the focus broadened to the foodservice, retail, ingredients and consumers.

Potatoes USA has continued to focus on potato nutrition as the largest funder of the Alliance for Potato Research & Education (which researches nutritional value of potatoes) and launched the Potatoes Fuel Performance campaign. These efforts take a proactive approach to establishing potatoes as a nutrient-dense vegetable that provides the carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals everyone needs to perform at their best.

Potatoes are the No. 1 side dish at foodservice, the No. 1 vegetable sold at retail, and America’s favorite vegetable. Potatoes USA will continue to work and adapt to keep it that way and to get more people eating more potatoes in more ways here in the U.S. and across the globe.