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CPAC in 'wait-and-see' mode with Mexican market

Monte Vista, CO — Mexican marketing campaigns remain in a holding pattern as the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee awaits further word on the border fully reopening for potato exports from the San Luis Valley, according to CPAC Assistant Director Linda Weyers.

Weyers said in mid-August, "We're playing the waiting game right now," noting the committee was awarded a USDA specialty crop block grant early this year to research consumer-direct marketing programs for its Mexican trade.

cpakCPAC Assistant Director Linda Weyers and Marketing Administrative Assistant Racheal Werner work closely with Executive Director Jim Ehrlich in promoting potatoes from Colorado's San Luis Valley. (Photo by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar) "Consumers in Mexico are familiar with the white-skinned potatoes that are grown in their country," she said, adding that CPAC's ultimate goal is to "reach both buyers and consumers" with information about russets, yellows and reds from Colorado.

"It is a learning curve for both of us," Weyers said of the potential new audience inside Mexico.

However, the full campaign meant to reach the interior of Mexico hinges on the reopening of the border.

"We got in on May 1," Weyers recounted of the short-lived opening of the border that was more than a decade in negotiations. "In mid-May everything was shut down, and now we're back to the 26-kilometer restriction [on potato exports into the neighboring country]."

While it waits on the full opening to take place, CPAC continues to develop its marketing program that includes grocery chains just inside Mexico, she said.

"We'll be using U.S. Potato Board resources," Weyers said of promotional materials and outreach.

On the domestic side of marketing promotions, CPAC is revamping its web page, coloradopotato.org, with added video capabilities and enhanced graphics.

"There will be more interactive elements this coming season," Weyers said. "We'll have newsfeeds, and we're strengthening our industry pages with links to research projects being conducted by Colorado State University and the Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association."

Marketing Administrative Assistant Racheal Werner continues to enlarge CPAC's presence on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn with additional interface in each of the social media venues, and CPAC has partnered with Denver's NBC affiliate, KUSA Channel 9, in producing four 15-second television commercials set to air throughout September.

The "Colorado Proud" message for potatoes includes CPAC's tagline, "From Our Family to Yours," and "actors" - adults and children - in the spots are all potato industry members from the San Luis Valley, Weyers said.

And as border talks move ahead, the committee will have a strategic planning session "while this new shipping season is in progress," Weyers said.