I caught up with Dave Rhodes, retail promotion director for the northeast at the Idaho Potato Commission, to hear his ideas on how stores can make the most of the potato category. Before joining the commission, Dave served as the vice president of produce for Marsh Supermarkets.
Don’t turn your back on bags
Innovative packages have sparked interest for the potato category, but the commission recommends retailers be careful to allocate shelf space in accordance with sales volume.
“Your bags represent close to 80-85% of your sales and 80-85% of your tonnage, and if you go losing sight of that, then you’re going to start seeing that category shift the other way,” Rhodes said. “Some retailers have already seen it where they’ve tried to put too much into the newer items and they’ve already seen their sales drop a little bit.”
Others have found success with expanding space for the category rather than making substitutions.
“There’s been a few retailers out there that have actually separated the specialty potatoes from the bags, and so they have a nice big bagged section together and then maybe they’re putting the specialties on a separate end by themselves, and that way they don’t take any space from the bags out there,” Rhodes said. “The ones that are doing that are actually seeing some really nice results from both sides of it.”
Many shoppers might not know that a potato has more potassium than a banana and contains a significant amount of Vitamin C. It is also gluten-free, as are most fresh produce items. Rhodes said some retailers have been using these facts on signage with displays, whether on stanchions or on banners, in an effort to educate shoppers on the merits of the vegetable.
Recipe for success
It often makes sense to accompany a display with an easy, seasonally appropriate recipe. Rhodes has been shipping out a thousand recipe tear pads each month to the retailers with whom he works. Giving shoppers new inspiration for a traditional product makes it more exciting and encourages impulse buys.