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Retailers pulled out all the stops this year to secure their share of the $150,000 in cash and prizes awarded in the Idaho Potato Commission's 19th annual Potato Lover’s Month retail display contest. Floor-to-ceiling, head- turning displays and increased retailer participation demonstrated that one of the more anticipated retail promotions of the year is more popular than ever.

"With potatoes being one of the only categories in the produce department experiencing double-digit volume growth, it’s no surprise we received close to 10 percent more entries than we did in 2009," Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail and international for the commission, said in a May 3 press release. “Displays attract customers, and by increasing potato sales, retailers are able to offset some of the margins lost on items that are not performing as well. This contest has become a tradition for many retailers. It’s an easy and fun way for them to increase sales and possibly win a substantial cash prize for themselves and their store.”

To add some spice to the displays, the commission again partnered with Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blends and Molly McButter, two favorite potato toppings. In addition to showcasing these two brands, all displays had to include fresh Idaho potatoes (bag, bulk or both) that have a clearly discernable label showing the Idaho name and the Grown in Idaho seal, and a clearly marked dehydrated Idaho potato product.

“Obviously one of the goals of the contest is to boost sales during a month when produce sales throughout the department are slow,” Mr. Pemsler added in the press release. “However, we also want to encourage consumers to look for the Grown in Idaho seal every time they make a potato purchase, whether it be fresh, frozen or dehydrated. It’s the only way they can be assured they are buying a premium, quality potato grown in the state of Idaho.”

More than $150,000 in cash and prizes was awarded with a total of $34,000 awarded as cash prizes to the top 115 participants, including matching prizes to category managers.