Record Number Of Retailers Enter '06 Potato Lover's Contest

EAGLE, Idaho -- Nearly 1,000 more retailers entered the annual Potato Lover's Month Retail display contest this year than last. The contest, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) here, has a record-setting 2,680 contestants.

Officials from the IPC and its partner brands -- Kraft Cheese Whiz and Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits -- attribute the high interest to the fact that the displays are driving business during a traditionally slow time of year. Another key factor contributing to the high interest level is the ease with which retailers could enter the contest.

"We worked very hard to ensure that every aspect of this contest required minimal time and energy to enter," said Seth Pemsler, IPC's v.p. of retail. "Our goal all along has been to design a contest that focuses the retailers’ energies on creating imaginative and compelling displays, without getting bogged down in the details. We know that the eye-catching displays not only make for good contest entries, but they also make solid business sense in the stores too."

Pemsler and the Kraft partners also credit the highly desirable premium offered to every qualified entrant for the contest's success. The 2006 premium was a free Magnavox DVD/CD player, valued at $69, which generated a huge and positive response from the retail community.

The following individuals/stores received top place awards in the three different store size categories in the display contest:

Steve Bianchetti, $1,250, Smiths, Albuquerque, N.M., 10+ cash registers; Chuck Ringholz, $1,250, Schilds, IGA, Norwalk, Ohio, 6-9 cash registers; and Randy Bonner, $1,250, Spain's Supermarket, Grenada, Miss., 1-5 cash registers.

The sales-driving product displays -- complete with customized point-of-sale materials and recipes -- were spotted in all sizes of supermarkets across the country during the contest period (primarily February, which is Potato Lover's Month), said Pemsler. Along with a major increase in the 2006 contest entries, the quality of displays continues to improve year to year, he said, adding that the time and attention that the retailers devoted to their entries was inspiring.

"If this contest does one thing, it helps reinforce how important displays are in terms of generating interest for specific products." said Pemsler. "In fact, both the IPC and Kraft received many entries with extremely favorable comments indicating substantially increased sales due to the contest displays."

Due to the success of this year's promotion, Kraft has already agreed to partner with the IPC for the 16th annual event next year.
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