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Agency is revamping the Idaho potato

By Liz Cosgrove
Published On: Nov 14 2012 07:48:27 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2012 10:14:13 AM CST

Less demand for potatoes leads to more promotion of the potato.

Idaho Falls, IDAHO -

The demand for potatoes has been down in recent years. But there's one state agency who's ready to revamp the image of the potato.

"I've traveled to a lot of countries and as soon as I say Idaho -- they say potato." said Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission.

As Muir says, it's what Idaho is. In fact, potatoes cashed in $912 million for Idaho's economy in 2011. But this year brings a challenge.

"We planted 25,000 acres more than last year. We also had a higher yield and mother nature blessed us with an abundant beautiful crop"

But what drove farmers to plant more potatoes this year? University of Idaho Agricultural Economist Paul Patterson says it's all about the rules of economics.

"It's the decision of individual farmers that think if they're the only ones who produce a few more acres of potatoes and the prices stay high then they're going to make more money," said Patterson.

But if every potato farmer increases their acreage like this year...

"Then we increase acreage or production to a point where we actually see a decrease in price," said Patterson.

And that's what happening this year. A surplus in supply with a low demand. But Muir and the Idaho Potato Commission are bringing the potato out of the ground and back to spotlight. Maybe you've even seen one of their promotions already.

"We're now on national cable television -- featuring our great, big, 6-ton Idaho potato," said Muir.

"We're also doing what is called a bin promotion, and that's where you go into retailers across America and offer to bring in these larger size potatoes in big display bins. This allows retailers more easily to bring in more potatoes," said Muir.

"It's definitely increasing awareness, it's increasing consumption and demand for Idaho potatoes," he added.

Muir says sales in potatoes have gone up in the past couple of weeks.  

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