Category Captain: Potatoes: United States Potato Board

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Category Captain: Potatoes: United States Potato Board


Aptly considered the go-to expert for the potato category, the U.S. Potato Board (USPB) has been working directly with food retailers for more than a decade to build their potato business through its focus on three key areas: information, education and collaboration.

The board is constantly conducting consumer and shopper research to better understand how potatoes are perceived, purchased and consumed. In 2010, the USPB fielded major consumer studies that yielded new insights into potato usage, as well as barriers. This year, the group is launching a landmark potato shopper study to define the decision tree that shoppers navigate when purchasing fresh potatoes.

Additionally, the USPB and The Perishables Group have assessed and catalogued the best practices for marketing fresh potatoes, after sifting through years of retail sales data and many thousands of potato promotions.

In the area of outreach, the USPB’s retail programs put information into action. This is accomplished most directly through the group’s “Retail Outreach” program, where face-to-face meetings are scheduled every year with regional and national food retailers. The USPB also publishes a bimonthly newsletter, which reaches a broader audience.

The USPB’s effective retail category management platform further excels by collaborating with food retailers to leverage its insights and apply best practices for individual companies. The “Best Practice Partner” program invites selected retailers to identify a single area of their marketing mix that will deliver the largest gain in category profits. The USPB then works hand in hand with these chains over a nine-month period to implement the relevant best practices and closely monitor the positive impact on potato sales and profitability.

In recent months, Walmart, Safeway and Supervalu, as well as other leading grocers, have taken advantage of Best Practice Partner program to build their respective potato category profits. Participating retailers outperformed their competitive markets by 2.6 percent to 11.7 percent during the most recent fiscal year, according to data cited by the USPB.