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Potandon’s Minute Mashers making inroads with consumers

By
Kathleen Thomas Gaspar

With its promotional gear in overdrive, Potandon Produce is taking its newest Green Giant Fresh product, Minute Mashers, straight to consumers via an “all hands on deck” approach to social media and television, according to Carter Bray, company vice president/general manager of variety potatoes.

Bray, along with Potandon Marketing Manager Dan Fitzgerald and Marketing Assistant Brandy Thueson, told The Produce News recently that Minute Mashers are making steady gains in their 2021 rollout.

The value-added product, which Bray said is the “second wave in an innovation portfolio” that began two years ago with One Step… Done! preseasoned microwaveable whole mini potatoes, consists of whole potatoes, also preseasoned, ready for microwaving and mashing. As with the One Step product, Minute Mashers are ready to eat in minutes, with no prep time involved.

Bray said Minute Mashers had been planned for rollout at PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans, noting, “It’s a bummer that PMA was canceled.” However, he said, Potandon’s marketing team has been working on multiple platforms to reach consumers, including possible in-store demos in California, current TV spots in select Texas markets and a comprehensive social media campaign.

Potandon is also in partnership with multi-media celebrity chef Brian Woolley, who is endorsing and sponsoring Green Giant Fresh and Klondike brands.

The marketing trio said both Minute Mashers and One Step… Done! offer consumers not only convenience but also superb taste and texture, attributes that have at times been lacking with value-added potato products in the past.

“To start with,” Bray said, “There’s no peeling and prep with Minute Mashers. With these you can bring mashed potatoes to the table every night in seven minutes from start to finish. And they come in three great flavors — Buttery Sea Salt and Pepper, Buttery Chive and Dill and Buttery Roasted Garlic.” The one-pound bags provide between three and four servings.

Fitzgerald added, “The seasonings are delicious, using clarified butter, and the taste is homemade with the convenience consumers need and want.”

Importantly, both Minute Mashers and One Step… Done! are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration at home, Bray said. He added, that the “first patent in the company’s history is disc technology with a shelf-stable product that brings a superior flavor profile. It hits a bullseye with consumers.”

The markets chosen for the rollout include Waco, Corpus Christi and Austin, TX, where television spots for both value-added products were running for the month of October.

Bray said, both virtual and face-to-face meetings and presentations are scheduled.

Noting the curveballs thrown by COVID-19, Bray said maintaining communications is key. “We spent all of 2020 unable to meet with customers in person. This year we started seeing customers coming out a bit in April and May.” However, he said with fall setting in, “We are kind of seeing a setback now. Virtual Zoom meetings are a decent, short-term bridge, but we still need to see people face-to-face. All the Zooming in the world is not a good proxy, and our products lend themselves to in-store sampling.”

Bray said some retailers have started in-store demos again.

Fitzgerald said social media and digital offer several different ways of reaching consumers with Green Giant Fresh recipe videos that are shared with retailers to use on their own sites and pages.

Woolley is featured in an online YouTube video where he introduces a panel of three consumers to Minute Mashers and receives rave reviews across the board.

In addition, Fitzgerald said, klondikebrands.com is also offering new recipes, videos and sweepstakes as well as facts about potatoes their many nutritional benefits.

“It’s such a misrepresentation that potatoes are empty carbs,” he said, adding that potatoes are “the healthy, smart fuel for an active lifestyle, and all the potato industry is making an effort to position potatoes as nutritious.” Another aspect of the health benefits, Thueson noted, is that One Step… Done! has zero sodium, and both products contain natural seasonings that are chef-inspired.

The team went on to say Potandon is also reaching retail consumers through in-store cross-promotions, a tactic that has been especially well-received.

“We’ve been working with other retail departments such as the deli with promos that adds another level of convenience and ease. Minute Mashers have been paired with rotisserie chicken as a meal solution, and it’s a great deal for consumers,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s the ‘aha’ moment when consumers see the convenience, and an in-store promotion such as a two-for-one meal kit can be applied.”

“It’s a stand-alone display in the deli,” Bray continued. “But something can’t just be convenient for convenience’s sake. Rotisserie chicken is convenient and quality, and Minute Mashers are convenient and quality. You need to have quality, and when we look at the lift we’re getting, it’s in double-digits. It’s a terrific sampling vehicle.”

In addition to promoting its two newest value-added items, Potandon has also been busily upping its game with its own infrastructure, all of which synchronizes happily.

“We’ve invested quite a bit into our own processing facility for our mini potatoes in Idaho,” Bray said. The high-tech sorting and grading equipment are “unique to North America,” he said. “It’s European technology, and it has improved how we sort and package.” The new facility went online in early 2020, he said.

Potandon.com has a two-minute video mini plant tour that features company CEO Mel Davenport and Bray and shows the mini potatoes being sorted and packaged, with Davenport stating the value-added presentations will “truly change the way we will eat potatoes in the future.”

 

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