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Expand Global Markets At Home

On a recent episode of ABC’s World News, reporter Robert Krulwich examined the most popular movie theater snack in the world. It wasn’t popcorn or candy – it was potatoes.

Americans went to the movies 1.4 billion times last year, but in the rapidly Westernizing society of India there are nearly 1 billion people, and India’s version of Hollywood – Bollywood – has seen amazing growth.

And when Indians go to the movies, they almost always consume products made with potatoes. Samosas, vada pav, papa chat and mango kulfi are all found in Indian movie theaters, and they all contain potatoes – mixed with other vegetables.

Now, consider how many Indians live in the United States. According to the ABC piece, there are more than 500,000 living in or around New York City. Movie theaters there and in New Jersey regularly show Bollywood films and carry traditional Indian foods.

Developing innovative new markets is key to growing the potato industry at home and abroad. Find a group of people that you don’t know much about and do some research. You may find they are looking for the very product you sell, but in a form that you’ve never seen.

As the global economy continues to grow in importance, some of our traditional opinions may have to change – like what type of snack goes with a movie. To quote the reporter on ABC World News: “Sorry corn, hello potato.”

This month’s issue has a feature on an innovative grower, Harry Strohauer from La Salle, Colo. He’s invested in new packaging equipment that reduces labor and allows him to quickly change bags during packing. At the same time, Strohauer has expanded his farming operations to include fingerling potatoes, both organic and conventional. He’s looked for new markets and invested money in reaching those markets.

There’s also an article by Howard Niebling at the University of Idaho. He gave a presentation at the school’s potato conference in January on maintaining irrigation equipment to help prevent disease. He said growers could prevent disease – especially in the wheel ruts – by monitoring the condition of the equipment and the amount of water being applied. He gives some good recommendations that can be put into practice before any seed is planted.

Originally posted Saturday, Apr. 7, 2007

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