Retailers Break Away from the Pack with Top Awards in Idaho Potato Lovers Display Contest

EAGLE, Idaho – Pulling out all the stops to showcase their favorite spuds, retailers nationwide fought hard for the highest honors in the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) 30th annual Idaho® Potato Lovers Display Contest. More than $150,000 in cash and prizes were awarded in the 2021 competition, along with the sweepstakes prize: a trip for two to luxurious Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

“We are delighted to see retailers continuing this 30-year tradition of building spectacular Idaho® potato displays that boost sales and get their shoppers excited about visiting the produce department,” says Jamie Bowen, IPC domestic marketing director. “Every year we see so many new ideas and creative ways to promote Idaho® potatoes. Produce managers deserve to be recognized for all of their talent and merchandising expertise!”

But no Idaho® potato display would be complete without a little help from its friends. This year’s spud showcases also featured retail partners Hormel® Real Bacon Toppings and Fresh Gourmet® Crispy Veggies, encouraging shoppers to bake up their own potato masterpieces at home.

“Hormel® Real Bacon Toppings is proud to have had the opportunity to partner with the Idaho Potato Commission on its annual display contest,” says Meghan Baumann, brand manager, Hormel® Real Bacon Toppings. “Displays featuring Hormel® Real Bacon Toppings and Idaho® potatoes inspire consumers to elevate their favorite recipes, ultimately driving purchase and solidifying sales with retail partners.”

“Congratulations to the creative winners of this year’s Idaho® Potato Lovers Display contest!” says Ting Sheng, shopper marketing & promotions manager for Fresh Gourmet Co. “It’s always exciting to see the incredible displays our produce partners dream up using Fresh Gourmet® Salad Toppings.“

Alan Summers, produce manager, Broulim’s, Rexburg, Idaho: “It was a lot of fun, and I appreciate the response we got from it.”

Creating the 1st place display in the 10+ registers category was an ongoing labor of love for Alan Summers, produce manager at Broulim’s in Rexburg, Idaho. “I start planning a couple months in advance—I write down ideas as I think about it,” he explains. “Then I compile it into a plan and execute it. Even when the display is being built, I always get ideas and adapt the display.”

The end result was a testament to spud sentiment, featuring a giant poster of a loaded baked potato overlooking a red potato heart set in a background of russets. Shoppers shared the love by boosting produce sales 4 to 8 percent overall while the Idaho® potato display was up, says Summers.

Grant Naylor, produce manager, Macey’s, Providence, Utah: “Our store is located not far from the southern Idaho border, and we wanted to advertise to our guests that these potatoes were from Idaho.”

In Providence, Utah, produce manager Grant Naylor’s 1st place display in the 6-9 register category literally spelled out the spuds’ Idaho roots. Loose red potatoes sat on a backdrop of loose baker russets, highlighted by eye-catching Mylar and latex balloons. “It drew a lot of attention [and] we had people shopping the display before it was even finished,” says Naylor.

The winning display, which Naylor estimates took six hours to build, helped double sales of 10-pound bags compared with the week before the display went up. “Placing full sleeves of the bagged potatoes in the rear of the display turned out to be a good idea,” he adds. “We sold a few full sleeves of potatoes since they were available for the guests.”

Danny Kim, produce manager, Pick-Rite Thriftway, Montesano, Washington: “Everybody loved the display, and people said it looked great!”

Idaho spuds on the move inspired produce manager Danny Kim’s display at Pick-Rite Thriftway in Montesano, Washington, which took 1st place in the 1-5 register category. The elaborate train and tractor constructed by Kim fueled lots of extra interest in the produce department, he says, and helped propel sales nearly 10 percent higher.

“I’m pretty good at art, and I do a lot of woodworking and drawing. I love working with wood and making things,” says Kim. “I’m already planning next year’s display in my head!”

For many retail produce managers, the annual IPC competition offers a perfect opportunity to be recognized for enjoyable but often unsung merchandising work. “One of my favorite parts of my job is building displays and being creative,” agrees Aaron Kemper, assistant store director center store at Fresh Thyme Market in Carmel, Indiana, who entered the display contest for the first time this year. Kemper says he was pleasantly surprised to see how many loose Idaho® potatoes were sold through the display, too.

In-store displays were required to incorporate fresh Idaho® potatoes (bag, bulk or both) with a clear label showing the Idaho name and the “Grown in Idaho®” seal, a clearly marked Idaho® dehydrated potato product, any variety of Hormel® Real Bacon Toppings, and any variety of Fresh Gourmet® Crispy Veggies. The display also needed to use IPC 2021 special themed point-of-sale materials: two double-sided Idaho® Potato Lovers logo display signs, one large and two small double-sided signs showing an appetizing photo, and two inflatable Mylar™ IPC-branded balloons. Displays were required to be in the store’s produce section for at least one week between Feb. 1 and March 31, 2021.

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