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IPC display contest bumps February sales

By John O’Connell

The Idaho Potato Commission believes its annual Potato Lovers Month contest has made a busy sales month of February, which has historically been one of the slowest months of the year.

Capital Press

EAGLE, Idaho — The Idaho Potato Commission will ship 15,000 contest kits to U.S. produce departments and military commissaries, inviting them to compete for cash with their creative displays featuring Idaho potatoes and Hormel Real Bacon Bits.

The 23rd Annual Idaho Potato Commission Retail Display Contest will award $150,000 in cash and prizes to stores in three size categories — one to five cash registers, six to nine cash registers and more than 10 cash registers.

Displays must remain in a store’s produce section for at least a week between Jan. 27 and Feb. 28, incorporating fresh Idaho potatoes, a dehydrated Idaho potato product and Hormel bacon bits. Rules and entry forms are available at www.IdahoPotato.com/Retail.

“We picked February because February used to be one of the slowest times of the year after the holidays,” said Jamie Bowen, IPC marketing manager. “Now it’s one of the stronger volume months, which didn’t surprise us because we pushed the contest so hard. The displays they build are huge. They order in truckloads of potatoes.”

Payments will include: $1,500 for first-place winners, $1,000 for second place, $750 for third place, $500 for fourth place and $250 for third place. Another 100 displays will win honorable mention prizes of $100 each. Produce managers of winning stores are offered the money, and regional produce category managers will receive matching payments if a store under their jurisdiction wins.

In cases in which produce managers are prohibited from accepting prize money, Bowen said IPC writes checks to the stores themselves.

Managers of all participating stores will be offered BlueROCK wireless Bluetooth speakers with auxiliary and charging cables.

Top displays of roughly 4,200 retail and 150 military entries in 2013 included: a castle guarded by Spuddy Buddies, a replica of the IPC’s Great Big Idaho Potato Truck, Idaho potatoes starring in “American Idol” and smoking volcanoes in recognition of Idaho’s volcanic farm soil.

Commissary winners will receive full admittance, including hotel rooms and airfare, to the 2014 Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit show in Anaheim, Calif., and every military entry will receive a Spuddy Buddy golf club cover.

Bowen said Hormel, in its second year as the contest’s corporate partner, has contributed both financially and by lending promotional help from its 250-person direct sales force.

“They call on every retailer in the U.S.,” Bowen said. “They’ve really pushed the contest on their end, which is really helpful to us.”

Once all of the expenses are tallied, IPC’s total investment in the 2014 contest should be roughly $500,000, plus or minus 10 percent, according to Seth Pemsler, IPC retail-international vice president.

Lynn Wilcox, an IPC board member with Wilcox Fresh in Rexburg, believes the contest has transformed February from his slowest month to about the sixth busiest month of the year.

“I am very certain we move more products because of this promotion,” Wilcox said. “I believe it has become a proven way to stimulate demand.”



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