IPC’s international programs respond to coronavirus pandemic environment

headshotipc In its international marketing programs, as in its domestic programs, the Idaho Potato Commission has made adjustments in response to the new environment brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic.

“In Latin America, when this pandemic hit, we were able to partner with some famous Latin American chefs and have them prepare recipes in their home, using only ingredients that they had readily available,” said Ross Johnson, who has headed the commission’s international programs since 2018.

Often, chefs on cooking programs “seem to throw in an ingredient that you’ve never heard of” or some kitchen implement that most people don’t have in their home kitchens, Johnson said. Having the chefs present recipes people could actually duplicate at home met with the approval of viewers. “We got really impressive interaction on social media with these recipes. Also, the chefs we partnered with had so much fun with that they have been coming to us” asking to do more.

In Asia, the commission has signed a contract with world-renowned professional badminton player Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia to represent Idaho potatoes. Reinforcing the message that potatoes are a great performance food, Tan will be making appearances throughout Asia on behalf of Idaho potatoes in conjunction with retail promotions, Johnson said.

“Depending on how everything goes with Covid, we might even be able to do a private exhibition for any importers that are importing Idaho potatoes,” said Johnson. “They will be able to come watch a special match between him and some of his friends.”

Tan’s accolades include a Guinness world record for the world’s fastest badminton smash.

In Mexico last year, “we successfully ran our first Potato Lovers Month” in an international market, Johnson said. The pandemic precluded a repeat this year, so “instead we are going to launch our new season potato harvest with a display contest along the border.”

Photo: Ross Johnson

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