Marketing campaign for potatoes launched

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD has launched a new 1 million marketing campaign to boost potato consumption among Irish consumers.

Unlike other areas of the Irish agri-food industry, sales figures for Irish potatoes have been disappointing in recent years. This is a trend that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine hopes to reverse.

To combat this decline a 1 million campaign designed to dispel fattening myths around potatoes and instead point out that they are naturally fat free and versatile was launched last October on National Potato Day. The campaign is coordinated by Bord Bia.

According to statistics released by Kantar Worldpanel, an international company dealing in consumer knowledge and insights based on continuous consumer panels, retail sales of fresh potatoes in Ireland have declined by 25 per cent over the last decade and by as much as one third between 2002 and 2014.

Sales to people under the age of 45 have been particularly poor as younger consumers appear to view the potato as an unexciting food that is less convenient than rice or pasta.

The campaign, which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the EU and Irelands potato industry will be run in conjunction with the British Potato Council. It is expected to run for three years and will see a cheeky potato character and tasty recipes advertised in both print and digital mediums.

The campaign is also further supported by extensive social media activity, blogger and vlogger partnerships as well as quick, simply and healthy recipes. The overall intention of the strategy is to implement a single umbrella campaign across both the British and Irish beef market, which will raise the image and profile of potatoes, and re-establish their relevance within the weekly shopping basket.

Speaking about the campaign Minister Coveney said: The potato is part our culture like no other food, inextricably linked to Irelands story and part of who we are. This campaign will bring the different varieties and versatility of the Irish potato to a younger generation.

Highlighting some of the challenges facing the industry, BordBias Horticulture Manager, Mike Neary explained that as younger people view potatoes as an unexciting food, the future of the potatos grip on the title of Irelands favourite carbohydrate does not, at present, look promising.

Potatoes are still Irelands preferred main meal carbohydrate, said Neary. However, shoppers under 45 account for only 33 per cent of potato sales and these consumers will ultimately make up a major part of the total market in years to come.

We really need to challenge consumer perceptions of fresh potatoes particularly amongst younger groups in order to combat declining consumption. This integrated campaign will highlight the fact that potatoes offer enormous potential within the world of modern cooking and build awareness of the added health and nutritional benefits of potatoes in comparison to competitor carbohydrates.

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