The Idaho Potato Commission Backgrounder
For close to 70 years, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) has been the national authority on the world’s best-loved potato: the Idaho Potato. The IPC consists of nine members - respected individuals who work within the industry – representing growers, shippers and processors. These individuals are nominated by their peers from the Idaho Potato industry and then a finalist is selected to serve by the Idaho state governor. Supporting the members is a full staff based in the IPC headquarters in Boise, ID.
Core Areas of Business
The IPC focuses on three core areas of business and development: consumer, foodservice and retail. Consumer efforts focus on promoting the benefits of Idaho Potatoes to the general public. On the retail front, the IPC supports the efforts of the supermarket retail trade to market and display the Idaho Potato. On the foodservice front, the IPC develops programs and outreach efforts targeting restaurants and institutional venues, such as cafeterias in hospitals or schools.
This division represents a critical piece of the IPC’s business. Restaurants and non-commercial on site locations rely on Idaho Potatoes as a mainstay of their menus – for breakfast, lunch and dinner - and the IPC devotes a significant portion of its resources to ensure that foodservice owners and managers are educated about the Idaho Potato.
As such, the IPC ensures that these key influencers are aware of the benefits of purchasing and using potatoes grown in the state of Idaho and know to look for the “Grown in Idaho” federal Certification Mark. A key message included in all communications outreach is the Idaho Potato’s consistently high solids content. This means that this potato has the ideal ratio of sugars and starch to water that gives them a unique texture, taste and dependable performance. This reliability factor is very important in the restaurant industry.
The Foodservice Division continues ongoing outreach targeting its trade. Specific activities include:
- A quarterly educational newsletter called “Idaho Potato News” that reports on food trends, seasonal tips and menu advice, and features recipe suggestions suitable for foodservice application.
- Regular recipe and brochure mailings and special offers.
- Foodservice events for key trade and foodservice media representatives.
- Representation at foodservice trade meetings and conferences.
The IPC represents all Idaho Potato processors, shippers and growers. The Commission’s primary responsibilities include:
- Promoting the Idaho Potato’s consistently great taste and performance qualities as well as its impressive nutritional make-up;
- Ensuring that only potatoes grown in the state of Idaho wear the “Grown in Idaho” federal Certification Mark;
- Assuring a consistent level of high quality for each Idaho Potato;
- Providing resources for continued research and development into new uses for the potato; and,
- Improving the state’s crop by focusing on good growing management practices and encouraging better handling and rotation of Idaho Potato displays at the retail level.
The Commission officially began in 1937 as the Idaho Fruit and Vegetable Advertising Commission. The organization was created to leverage the nation’s growing appreciation for vegetables, including Idaho-grown potatoes, onions, apples and prunes. It was the first official body to promote fruits and vegetables from the Gem State.
In 1959, the Commission began to require that the Idaho Certification Mark be placed on every bag of genuine Idaho Potatoes. The Commission worked with shippers to develop minimum size requirements of the Certification Mark on containers to help the consumer identify potatoes grown in Idaho from potatoes grown in competing states.
In the mid-1960’s, the Commission increased efforts to better educate industry employees and consumers. It developed the “Bruisers are Losers” campaign to train growers and packers on how to reduce bruising of potatoes. The Commission also started a campaign to counteract the notion that potatoes were fattening. The American public was delighted to discover that the opposite was true: the potato is low in calories, has virtually no fat and contains many important nutrients. The Commission continually tailors its programs to reflect current food trends and educate the American consumer on the great taste, versatility and nutritional benefits of Idaho Potatoes
The Commission continues to evolve into its modern role of promoting Idaho Potatoes and researching ways to improve the state’s potato crop. The Commission may earmark up to 12 percent of its funds for potato research and development, focusing on such critical concerns as improving production practices and growing conditions and finding new ways to utilize Idaho Potatoes.
Today, Idaho’s potato industry contributes approximately $2 billion to the state economy and employs thousands of residents. The Idaho Potato Commission is still the country’s foremost authority on potatoes. It is comprised of people who know and love the Idaho Potato and are dedicated to improving its status and the public’s appreciation of its healthy goodness.