WPVGA Helping Produce Departments Boost Spud Sales

The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) has developed point-of-sale materials to educate shoppers on potato types and provide them with new recipes, as a way to help supermarkets grow their tater sales.

“Our market research indicates that customers want to know which potato is best for each of the various methods of cooking,” noted Tim Feit, director of promotions and consumer education for the Antigo, Wis.-based WPVGA. “According to our research, consumers don’t always know which potato they should use for a French fry, a baked potato or a potato salad, and they are frustrated if they can’t find produce personnel to answer their questions. So we’ve designed a chart that answers those questions for consumers —alleviating consumer frustration and demands on produce personnel.”

The organization’s “Pick the Perfect Potato” chart features photographs of seven potato types and clearly indicates which of 11 cooking methods works best for each variety. For instance, russets, the most common potato type, are best baked or mashed, while for potato salads, round reds are preferable.

As well as instructing consumers on how to prepare potatoes by traditional methods, the WPVGA offers a Seasonal Promotions Recipe Contest, in which participants submit recipes using potatoes in more creative ways. According to Feit, “Our research indicates that consumers are trying to economize — but they don’t want to sacrifice quality and they don’t want to eat the same thing over and over again. So we’ve provided consumers with tried-and true recipes from Wisconsin potato fans that will make an economical staple — potatoes — an interesting centerpiece of the meal.”

In the recent Holiday Celebrations recipe contests, Marilyn Blankschien won first prize for her Chocolate Potato Cherry Cream Torte. Blankschien observed that using potatoes in the cake made it moister, and as the recipe requires no shortening or oil, the torte is actually healthier than comparable desserts. Produce buyers and managers can find point-of-sale posters and free tearpads of the winning recipe at www.WinWithWisconsinPotatoes.com/retail-support.

“We’re listening to consumers and grocers — people want a better understanding of the potato,” said Feit. “By [our] showing consumers how to select the right potato and providing them with new recipes made with Wisconsin potatoes, shoppers are making informed choices that will make them, and their families, happy.”

In addition to providing grower education, government support, environmentally sound research and consumer education for 150 grower organizations across Wisconsin, WPVGA markets Healthy Grown potatoes, an independently monitored sustainable product grown exclusively in the state, in russets, red, yellow flesh and round white varieties.
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