Mar 29, 2019Athletic performance benefits of potatoes, international trade focus of Potatoes USA meeting
More than 100 Potatoes USA board members gathered in Denver for the national promotional organization’s annual meeting on March 12-14.
Subcommittee meetings focuses on a variety of domestic and international marketing.
With the trade struggle still in effect with China, Mexico and other nations affecting U.S. exports of potatoes, international markets are a big focus for
Potatoes USA. Also, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP11) went into effect at the end of 2018 without the inclusion of the U.S., giving an advantage to Canada, New Zealand and Australia in trade with Pacific Rim nations, including Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.
To combat this, Potatoes USA applied for and received $3.6 million in Agricultural Trade Promotion funding from the USDA. The ATP funds will be used over the next two years to develop new markets for U.S. potato exports and to bolster competitiveness in established markets.
Potatoes USA also obtained $4.9 million in Market Access Program (MAP) funding to be used for ongoing export development programs in Asia and Latin America in the coming fiscal year.
A major push for domestic market growth is the new “Performance Strategy and What Are You Eating?” campaign, which focuses on promoting the athletic performance value of potatoes. Nutritional professionals and athletes have been targeted with this campaign.
Potatoes USA had a presence at three Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series races in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Antonio, which drew 72,000 people. Another scheduled race is coming up in San Francisco in April.
Potatoes USA also has partnered with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, National High School Coaches Association and SHAPE to help spread the message.
After just eight months, the campaign has resulted in consumer rating increases in several categories, such as “provides sustained energy,” “good for athletic performance,” and “used and approved by athletes.”
Overall, domestic sales from July 2018 through February 2019 were up by 2.4 percent, although total volume was down by 1.5 percent. Studies show consumers continue to buy fewer large bags of russet potatoes, which is driving the decline in overall volume.
Potato dishes are now on 83 percent of restaurant menus around the U.S. In addition, potatoes on K-12 foodservice menus have increased by 24 percent over the past year.
Phil Hickman of Horntown, Virginia, will serve a one-year term as Potatoes USA board chairman, making him the board’s first chairman from Virginia.
Hickman brings vast experience to the Chairman role by actively serving on the Potatoes USA board for 11 years and farming since 1974, when he and his brother began Dublin Farms at the ages 20 and 22, respectively. Hickman grew up farming on property that has been in his family for over 100 years and has harvested potatoes on different portions of the land every year.
Hickman replaces Dan Moss of Delco, Idaho, who just finished up his term as chairman.
Potatoes USA’s 2019 summer meeting will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug. 13-14.