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Idaho Potato Commission doubles up to push message

When Idaho Potato Commission representatives encounter customers for their product at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, they have a singular message: continue to stock and promote Idaho potatoes as the premium potato in the category.17819-FG-6-Case-Crispy-Veggies-Shipper-POTATO2

The trade commodity group uses multiple vehicles to hammer home this message. The organization will have a large booth on the show floor and it also sponsors and mans the Refresh Lounge, where it can sample Idaho potato recipes and give industry folks a closer look at IPC’s ongoing and new potato promotion programs.

Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail and internationalfor IPC, said that the commission will be well represented at Fresh Summit with staff and agency personnal as well as growers and shippers. There will be a path beaten between the booth and the Refresh Lounge as those representatives shuttle customers back and forth to sample all IPC has to offer.

On the top of that list are two recipes designed to remind these ultimate sellers of Idaho potatoes just how tasty a potato can be. “We will be featuring two new, chef-created recipes demonstrating our partnerships with Litehouse Herbs and Fresh Gourmet toppings,” Pemsler said.

Those two companies will be engaged in tie-in promotions for the 2019-20 season with the Idaho Potato Commission. Pemsler said the in-store promotions will feature “cool-looking” display shippers and will drive home the message that premium Idaho potatoes are partnering with two other premium products in their specific product categories.

The IPC executive said the Refresh Lounge is a great place to relax, say hello to customers and promote the tie-ins, as well as IPC always-popular Potato Lovers Month (February) efforts. As has been its tradition for many years, IPC will sponsor the 29th annual Idaho Potato Lovers Display Contest during that month, which will feature great prizes, and more importantly, fantastic displays to sell this season’s crop.

Speaking in mid-September, Pemsler said the size of the crop had not yet been determined as the digging of the potatoes was just getting under way. He noted the industry knows the acreage is down a little bit so growers are anticipating a smaller crop because 2018 featured record yields. He added that the expectations are that the crop will skew more heavily toward smaller sizes, “which means more bags and fewer cartons.”

With regard to the IPC’s message and its participation at Fresh Summit, Pemsler said saying hello to old friends and customers, and “flying the flag” for the Idaho potato industry are always important activities. One would think that Idaho potatoes, a crop that has a decades-long stellar reputation, would need no introduction, but Pemsler said that isn’t true. “Year after year, there are so many new people that come to the category,” he said. “They may know about Idaho potatoes but they don’t know about us.”

He revealed that though he has been with the IPC for the past 15 years, he came to potatoes from outside the industry and wasn’t well versed in the nuances of the Idaho potato. Pemsler has become an expert and is happy to pass on his knowledge to those that are not yet so informed. More importantly, he said Fresh Summit allows retailers and others to receive first-hand information from growers and shippers. With a West Coast location it is a foregone conclusion that more Idaho industry folks will be in attendance.

Speaking of the California location, Pemsler said the attendees will be slightly different than when the convention is on the East Coast. He noted that Fresh Summit attracts a lot of support internationally and when it is in the East more produce industry members from Europe and South America attend. A West Coast venue means more produce people from Asia make the trek. He added that Idaho potatoes have worldwide presence so IPC is always looking to connect to the product’s customers.

Regardless of whom the IPC representatives are speaking to, the message will be the same: the Idaho potato tastes good and is the No. 1 brand of potato in the world.

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