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More retailers than ever before decked their aisles with spectacular spud displays in February in hopes hopes of winning a share of the $150,000 in cash and prizes awarded in the Idaho Potato Commission’s Potato Lover’s Month Retail Display Contest.

 

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Lammer’s Food Fest in Menomonie, WI, took first place for this sharp-looking display.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the contest is the commission’s longest-running promotion and garnered a record 2,515 entries.

 

According to a May 2 release from the commission, headquartered in Eagle, ID, the contest has inspired innovative potato displays from retailers across the country, helped increase Idaho potato sales and bolstered business in produce departments during a month when produce sales are typically at a lull.

“Produce managers across the country understand better than ever the impact a strong, creative retail promotion can have on their entire department. They know from first-hand experience that attention-grabbing displays drive sales,” Seth Pemsler, the commission’s vice president of retail-international, said in the release. “Even after 20 years not only are we generating more interest than ever before, the displays are bigger, bolder and even more creative.”

Fresh Market in Spanish Fork, UT, took the challenge to heart and built what the commission described as the world’s largest Idaho potato display. It took dozens of dedicated employees five hours to transform 80,000 pounds of Idaho potatoes (two truckloads) into a “spud-tacular” display. A combination of local advertising and public relations support, in-store activities and competitive pricing guaranteed that every single potato sold, the release said.

The commission’s Potato Lover’s Month point-of-sale materials and Idaho potato products — both fresh and dehydrated — weren’t the only items featured in the merchandising displays. Competitors were challenged to add a few extra ingredients to the mix, including popular potato toppings “Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blends” and “Molly McButter” to cook up some unique displays.

Participants submitted their entries on-line or by mail along with a photo of their display. This year, every qualified entrant received a “Coby Snapp” digital camcorder, valued at $99.

A total of 115 cash prizes were awarded to the top five finishers in three store categories as well as honorable mentions. Fifteen category managers also received a matching cash prize for their stores placing in the top (first through fifth) categories. First-place winners received $1,500 each; second-place winners received $1,000 each; third-place winners received $750 each; fourth-place winners received $500 each; fifth-place winners received $250 each; and 100 honorable mentions each received $100.

First-place display winners:

• 1-5 Cash Registers: Robert Childers, Piggly Wiggly No. 124, Clover, SC.

• 6-9 Cash Registers: Dean Eide, Lammer’s Food Fest, Menomonie, WI.

• 10-plus Cash Registers: Fred Sweany, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Wooster, OH.

Second-place display winners:

• 1-5 Cash Registers: Larry J. Schell, Reynolds Market, Baker, MT.

• 6-9 Cash Registers: Steve Thomas, Fresh Market, Spanish Fork, UT.

• 10-plus Cash Registers: Leo DeLeon, Publix Foods, Fort Pierce, FL.

Third-place display winners:

• 1-5 Cash Registers: Bryan Bennington, Sirna’s Market & Deli, Aurora, OH.

• 6-9 Cash Registers: Scott Jones, IGA No. 63, Livermore, KY.

• 10+ Cash Registers: Sharon Brennan, Viking Village Foods, Reedsburg, WI.

Participating retail supermarket chains and independents had to feature the displays in their store’s produce section for at least one week during the Jan. 31-Feb. 25 contest period. The Potato Lover’s Month Display Contest Review Committee judged the displays and selected winners based on use of Potato Lover’s Month signage, creativity, incorporation of partner products and effectiveness of the display in perceived sales increase.

To view photos of all winning entries, visit http://retail.idahopotato.com/plm_2011.