€1m campaign to make potatoes more than ‘bit on the side’

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney launched a €1m marketing campaign to boost potato consumption among Irish consumers, particularly targetting the younger market. Picture: Nick Bradshaw

They’ve caused us a lot of trouble down the years but the Government is spending a cool €1m to revamp the image of the spud.

Bord Bia will co-ordinate and manage the three-year campaign, which is designed to dispel fattening myths around potatoes and instead point out that they are “naturally fat free, tasty and versatile”.

While once a nation that loved the spud, it seems that love affair has been on the wane for a number of years. According to Kantar Worldpanel, retail sales of fresh potatoes in Ireland have declined by 25% 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 hit as younger consumers view the potato as an unexciting food that is less convenient than rice or pasta.

The campaign will kick off with National Potato Day on October 2. It will include print and digital advertising using a “cheeky” potato character and tasty recipes to show potatoes are “more than a bit on the side”.

€1m campaign to make potatoes more than ‘bit on the side’

This will be further supported by extensive social media activity, blogger and vlogger partnerships, as well as quick, simple, and healthy recipes.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the plan would be co-funded by his department, the EU and Ireland’s potato industry and will be run in conjunction with the British Potato Council.

“The potato is part of our culture like no other food, inextricably linked to Ireland’s story and part of who we are. This campaign will bring the different varieties and versatility of the Irish potato to a younger generation,” said Mr Coveney.

The overall strategy is to implement a single umbrella campaign, across both the Irish and British market, which will raise the image and profile of potatoes, and re-establish their relevance within the weekly shopping basket.

€1m campaign to make potatoes more than ‘bit on the side’

Horticulture manager with Bord Bia, Mike Neary, said the potato industry —which was worth €184m last year — was facing stiff challenges here.

“Potatoes are still Ireland’s preferred main meal carbohydrate, however shoppers under-45 account for only 33% of potato sales and these consumers will ultimately make up a major part of the total market in the years to come. Younger consumers view potatoes as a traditional, unexciting food and less convenient than modern carbs such as pasta and rice,” he said.

The new promotional campaign, entitled “Potatoes — more than a bit on the side”, will focus on younger consumers, in particular 22 to 44-year-old females.

“We really need to challenge consumer perceptions of fresh potatoes — particularly among younger age groups — in order to combat declining consumption,” said Mr Neary.


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