Idaho spuds given as diplomatic gesture
By John O’Connell
EAGLE, Idaho — Officials with the Idaho Potato Commission are pleased by a lofty new role for their commodity – promoting world peace.
Prior to meetings about unrest in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a gift of two large Idaho bakers.
According to NBC News, Lavrov had mentioned Idaho potatoes during a prior meeting with Kerry and smiled as he accepted the gift, which he reportedly described as “impressive.” The dignitaries made the exchange while meeting in Paris with Syrian opposition groups in advance of upcoming United Nations peace talks, according to NBC.
“We were obviously very thrilled to see this picture of Secretary Kerry using two very large Idaho potatoes as a peace gesture to his Russian counterpart, and the fact that they both had smiles on their face just tells you something,” said Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission.
Muir emphasized that potatoes are staples of the Russian diet, and he’s learned first-hand the Russian’s believe Idaho sets the gold standard for spuds.
In December of 2012, Muir participated in a USDA trade mission to Russia, where “in all meetings, everyone was very well aware of Idaho’s famous brand. They really saw Idaho as a premium potato.”
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture led another trade mission to Russia recently. Muir believes Russia – the third largest market both for production and consumption of spuds – presents a good, new trade opportunity for Idaho potatoes.