Idaho Potato Commission President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Muir represented the Idaho potato industry on the international front as a speaker at the seventh World Potato Congress March 23 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Mr. Muir was invited to speak to more than 400 potato industry delegates from around the world on the future of processed potato products, an important trend in the on-the-go world.
Mr. Muir's more than five years of experience with the commission, as well as his proven success leading consumer packaged goods companies like General Mills, the R.T. French Co. and ConAgra Foods Inc., merited him the honor of speaking at the potato congress for the second time, the first being in 2006 when the commission sponsored the event in its hometown of Boise, ID.
"I was honored to represent Idaho at this meeting of some of the most important leaders in the international potato industry," Mr. Muir said in a press release. "On this unique occasion, we had the opportunity to share our industry findings as well as learn from others' research and marketing practices in foreign markets. With potatoes an integral part of almost every diet in the world, there is an abundance of information to exchange and bring back to our constituents."
Mr. Muir's presentation showcased trends in the United States that are leading to the popularity of frozen, dehydrated and refrigerated potato products in the retail segment. These trends include:
* Changing demographics, including an older population, greater ethnic diversity and smaller families.
* The waning of cooking interests and time by the older generation as well as skills by the younger generation.
* Prepackaged fresh produce and prepackaged meals in retail stores to meet the needs of these changing demographics.
* Innovative new products that stimulate purchases and new usage occasions.
The seventh World Potato Congress' overall theme was "Nourishing our Future: Nutritious, Delicious, Sustainable," which is increasingly relevant in today's society of "greening" consumers. Sessions covered a gamut of topics from farming to retail to marketing in today's environmentally conscious society.