Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The potato council

February 21

I spent the past two-and-a-half days in Washington, D.C., talking to two groups from the National Potato Council about foodservice trends. First I spoke to their "leadership group," which is a collection of mostly young, good-looking and articulate potato farmers who are being groomed to represent their industry. They're getting media training, etiquette lessons and instruction on pretty much everything else that relates to potatoes and how to promote them. Smart people, the potato council.
Then the next day I spoke to the council's 80-member board of directors. I gave the same presentation, but wore a different suit. I talked about the growing popularity of pedigreed products, such as heirloom tomatoes and their own fingerling potatoes. They told me they were working on developing a variety of new breeds as well as marketing better the fact that a wide variety of potatoes already are being grown in America. Labeling them as such would help, they observed.
They asked me about the demand for organic products, which I said was still relatively small, but growing. A couple of producers from Wisconsin lamented to me after my talk that they had been growing potatoes that weren't organic, but that had minimal pesticides and were being grown sustainably, but because they didn't fit into any specific category, they couldn't convince anyone to buy them.
So if you know of anyone who might like to buy their potatoes, let me know.

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