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Industry veteran to help boost Idaho potato sales

The Idaho Potato Commission is preparing for an expanded sales push both in the United States and abroad with the addition of Ross Johnson as the new IPC international marketing director.ipc

“We know international opportunities to drive higher Idaho potato sales are exponential,” said Johnson, whose experience includes leading domestic and international marketing programs at Potatoes USA, along with management positions at Kraft and ConAgra. “There is a lot of opportunity for international growth and for educating retailers on the importance of the Idaho potato in their produce departments.”

Johnson will also lend his consumer research expertise to U.S. retail programs, focusing on data and category management. “My hope is to bring more action-oriented ideas to domestic retailers to grow their departments, using fact-based data,” he said.

Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail and international, sees Johnson as a tremendous asset for both domestic and international Idaho potato marketing efforts. “Ross is fully up to speed on both the Asian and Latin American potato markets, where we continue to see strong growth potential in both our existing and emerging markets,” said Pemsler. “He’s also going to bring truly innovative ideas to our programs for U.S. retailers -- research-based strategies for driving even higher sales for these premium-brand potatoes that American consumers love.”

“Ross has the perfect background for the international marketing director position -- potato industry experience, exceptional work ethic and the knowledge and skills to build awareness of the Idaho potato brand around the world,” said Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of IPC. “We look forward to having him be a part of the team.”

Based in the Eagle office, Johnson will work with IPC’s international offices for Latin America, Southeast Asia and Greater China, which help facilitate connections among Idaho potato shippers and foreign trading partners, along with creating and executing marketing promotion programs and offering ongoing marketing support, such as chef training and in-store sampling. Idaho’s top fresh potato export markets for 2017 were Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Guatemala and Panama.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Florida Southern College and is an avid baseball fan in his spare time. His favorite way to chow down on Idaho spuds? Baked, of course, and topped with plenty of Hormel bacon, cheese and butter.