According to John Pope, v.p. of Houston-based Mountain King Potatoes, Atkins and its related low-carb spinoffs "have had a huge impact."Pope
, whose employer ranks among the nation's largest growers of specialty potatoes, estimates that fresh-potato sales were off by more than 5 percent during the last quarter of 2003.
For its part, Mountain King
has been working in close association with several supermarket chains to develop a unique consumer-education program that's recapturing lost potato sales revenues, Pope
says."Our six-week 'Low in Calories, High in Flavor' promotion is a plan using in-store banners, on-bag diet information, and fact-based advertising to place special emphasis on the role potatoes can play in a highly effective weight-loss effort."
The program focuses on the fact that many potato dishes fall within the recommended carbohydrate levels of several low-carb diets, says Pope
, who adds: "Potatoes are an ideal diet food, even for the low-carb plans.We've created an action plan that we think is very important for customers, and thus far it's been very successful and seen very substantial sales increases."
Through these and other efforts, USPB's Johnson says the industry is essentially working to "give consumers permission to eat something they like.We haven't lost consumers as much as we've lost frequency, and potatoes can and should be part of a balanced diet."Pope
says: "I think that as an industry, we have to do a lot of educating while reminding people that potatoes have been around a lot longer than low-carb diets.