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EAGLE, IDAHO - Grocers love their spuds, and from the 2,000 contest entries received, it's evident that they also love the Idaho Potato Commission's (IPC) annual Potato Lovers Month Retail Display Contest that's held each February.
This year, the commission awarded more than $150,000 in cash and merchandise prizes to retailers across the country, and also awarded every qualified entrant a free MP3 digital music player valued at $70.
February is typically a slow time of year for potato sales and this unique contest, which is in its 16th year, has become increasingly popular among retailers. In just the past three years, an average of over 2,000 stores have participated in this contest annually vs. the average 600 entries during the 13 years prior.
Thousands of dollars in prize money were awarded to the top five display winners in three different store categories (with matching category manager prizes), plus $100 each to 100 honorable mention winners. First place award winners in the display contest included:
Jeff Stewart, Piggly Wiggly, Jackson, Ken., Donna Shuey, Slone's Signature Market, Bonifay, Fla., and Brett Reed, Hy-Vee Food Stores, Windsor Heights, Iowa. The top five best ad entries received major cash prizes, and an additional 25 honorable mentions each received $100. Stewart also won a $1,250 as the winner of the ad overlay portion of the contest.
For the contest, open to supermarket chains and independents, contest displays had to have been in place for at least one week during the Jan. 23-Feb. 27, 2007 contest period, set up in the produce section of the store and featured fresh Idaho Potatoes (bag/bulk or both) that had a clearly discernable label showing the Idaho name and the "Grown in Idaho" seal; a clearly marked Idaho dehydrated potato product; and two of the following partner items from Kraft (Cheez Whiz, 100 Percent Grated Parmesan Cheese and Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits).
"The growth and popularity of this contest is unbelievable," said Seth Pemsler IPC's v.p./retail/International. "The spike in interest is largely due to the fact that the contest is easy to enter, it's fun, everyone wins a prize and it helps boost sales during a slow time of the year, However, if this contest continues to grow at its current pace, February may no longer be a slow sales month for Idaho Potatoes."
While many displays featured the IPC's famous Spuddy Buddy mascot, a few retailers went with themed displays like "Dancing With the Spuds" and one carefully fashioned in the shape of the state of Idaho.
To view photographs of all the winning entries, visit: http://idahopotato.com/plm_2007/winners/index.php.