The 83rd annual Idaho Grower Shippers Association convention, held here Aug. 31-Sept. 2, featured a plethora of educational sessions and networking opportunities as well as a dose of controversy, as the top officials of two leading potato organizations addressed the U.S. Potato Board’s “Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed” campaign (PGU) that has created a rift in the industry.
At separate sessions held on consecutive days during the IGSA convention, Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of the IPC, and Tim O’Connor, president and CEO of the U.S. Potato Board, gave their views of the issue and where each organization stands.
Mr. Muir capped his annual IPC marketing report Sept. 1 with a 15-minute update on where the commission stands with the PGU campaign. He said that there are two emergent issues the IPC is addressing.
“First, at least three states are using the PGU as a brand, and we feel that consumers believe “Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed” is connected with Idaho,” said Mr. Muir. “Second, the U.S. Potato Board had meetings with Walmart about designing a new potato bag with the PGU seal, and it had a strategy for meeting with other retailers as well, some of which are exclusively Idaho potato customers.”
Mr. Muir said that this initiative would create further consumer confusion and also increases retailers’ leverage to lower prices, since Idaho would have to drop its prices in order to keep those markets.
He said that the commission appealed to Walmart to drop the “Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed” seal and instead use the American Heart Association’s Heart Check mark.
“Walmart’s director of produce immediately responded and agreed to use the ‘Heart Check’ mark instead, saying that it was a much more recognized brand than PGU,” said Mr. Muir.
Fresh Idaho Potatoes are certified by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy food (more).