Nov 15, 2017Defining potatoes as a ‘performance fuel’
Recently, Potatoes USA received approval to spend money toward research with the goal of launching more proactive campaigns around potato nutrition. Instead of reactively combating negative health claims against potatoes, Potatoes USA will more actively promote potatoes as part of an active lifestyle, including for high-performance athletes. When he unrolled this strategy earlier this year, Potatoes USA President Blair Richardson said this will supplement current marketing efforts but not replace them.
The research isn’t finished yet, but the group is already taking steps toward this goal of promoting potatoes as athletic fuel.
“We are not going to be on our heels, we are going to be on our toes,” said
Kim Breshears, director of marketing programs for Potatoes USA to the recent BIG Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting on Nov. 14.
She said that by aiming marketing efforts at the around 44 percent of the U.S. population who exercise regularly (twice a week) and the 16 percent of the country, 30 million people, who identity as performance athletes, Potatoes USA can influence these thought leaders who will then influence others.
“It can be the mom with kids who’s running around all day,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter, we all need energy to get through our everyday lives.”
Potatoes USA was one of the official sponsors of the Ironman 70.3 in Boulder, Colorado, this past August. In fact, potatoes were listed as the “official performance vegetable” of the race.
Breshears said that eventually potatoes could be at fueling stations along race courses and be right alongside bananas at finish lines as a way for athletes to replenish potassium.
Another major opportunity, she said, would be a potato-based protein drink.
“That for me is a big win for this industry that we would be associated with that stage of recovery,” she said.
She said athletic trainers are also a key audience, since what an athlete learns regarding nutrition at a young age can stay with them their entire life.
The research is a big piece of this effort, Breshears told the Idaho growers, because athletes put a lot of stock in science when making nutritional decisions. That research will be ready by the middle of 2018.
In the meantime, Potatoes USA will continue to try and shift connotations around potatoes from “couch potato” to “powerful potato.” That work will affect how not only consumers but the retail and ingredient sectors treat potatoes.
“What do potatoes stand for, they stand for performance,” she said.