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Retailers shine in Idaho Potato Lovers Display Contest

Heartfelt tributes to stellar spuds were just the ticket for higher produce sales during the Idaho Potato Commission’s 31st annual retail display contest.

Retailers across the country took home more than $150,000 in cash and prizes for their winning entries in this year’s Idaho Potato Lovers Display Contest — and IPC reports that test stores with secondary displays of Idaho russets deliver a nearly 10 times growth advantage, while comparison stores with no secondary display achieve an average category growth of only 2.5 percent.

"This is such a wonderful opportunity for produce managers to express their creativity and grow their store sales at the same time,” said Jamie Bowen, IPC director of marketing. “It’s also our way of showing our appreciation for all of the hard work that produce managers do. Besides the many cash prizes awarded, everyone who entered the contest received a free Idaho potato six-piece steak knife set, just right for carving into a juicy steak with, of course, a big baked Idaho potato on the side!”

Retail partners Hormel Real Bacon Toppings and Fresh Gourmet Crispy Veggies also got in on the act again this year, providing zesty accompaniments for both store displays and shoppers’ at-home Idaho potato dishes.

Troy Mundorff, produce manager, Martin’s Country Market, Ephrata, Pennsylvania: “It was a lot of work, but everyone involved had fun building this winning display.”
Troy Mundorff, produce manager of Martin’s Country
Market in Ephrata, PA, said, 'It was a lot of work, but
everyone involved had fun building this winning display.'

“Hormel Real Bacon Toppings and Idaho potatoes are a delicious combination,” said Meghan Baumann, brand manager of Hormel Real Bacon Toppings. “The IPC display contest creates a point of inspiration for shoppers by bringing together items from across the store which create simple, tasty meals and sides. Displays featuring Hormel Real Bacon Toppings and Idaho potatoes inspire consumers to elevate their favorite recipes.”

“It is always so incredibly exciting to see all the creativity shown by our produce partners for their in-store displays using Fresh Gourmet Salad Toppings,” said Minal Thakkar, marketing specialist for Fresh Gourmet Co. “Congratulations to the winners for this year’s Idaho Potato Lovers Display Contest!”

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, said Produce Manager Troy Mundorff, whose display won first place in the 10-plus registers category this year. “Last year we built a display for the contest and were very disappointed with the results — not even an honorable mention,” said Mundorff, who works at Martin’s Country Market in Ephrata, PA. “So this year we were determined to compete for a top spot. We came up with the idea to bring into the store a real Kubota tractor to get the attention we wanted — go big or go home!”

The tractor, which belongs to the store’s owner, was a hit with shoppers, and many snapped photos of it with their phones during the BOGO tater wagon sale. “The display and sale were a huge success, and we sold nearly 1,500 five-pound bags of Idaho potatoes,” he said.

McKayla Marks, produce manager, IGA, Jasper, Indiana: “I think our shoppers really liked seeing the variety of products we had to tie in with our potatoes.”
McKayla Marks, produce manager if IGA
in Jasper, IN, said, 'I think our shoppers
really liked seeing the variety of products
we had to tie in with our potatoes.'

Love was in the air for the first place display in the six to nine register category at IGA in Jasper, IN. The display’s giant red heart, fashioned from ribbons and other craft supplies attached to a wooden frame, was a perfect match with IPC’s themed point-of-sale materials, said McKayla Marks, produce manager.

“It was a very good way to increase potato sales in our department and create something eye-catching for the customers,” said Marks. “It was also a good way to make customers check out the rest of our department and our store in general!”

At B&T’s Fresh Food Market in Millen, GA, Store Manager Bobby Inman said he drew on his art background to design and build his elaborate first place display for the one to five register category. “I was in art school every summer during my childhood,” said Inman. “For the display, I did pretty much all of the artwork and lettering, and I built all the little crates and the frame. Much of it was so big that it had to come in through our back door, including the tractor.” 

The stores’ shoppers were an appreciative audience, he said, with some of them posting photos of the display on social media. Inman says his next art project will be an ambitious Jurassic Park-themed produce display to coincide with the opening of the new dinosaur movie.

Everyone who participated in the 2022 IPC contest was also entered in a random sweepstakes drawing, with one lucky winner receiving a seven-day resort getaway for two at Casa Marina in Key West, FL. A second Casa Marina vacation package was awarded to the sweepstakes winner’s category manager.

Retailers competed with other same-size stores in one of three categories: 1-5 cash registers, 6-9 cash registers, or 10+ cash registers. Within each store category, entrants were eligible to win these prizes:

Bobby Inman, store manager, B&T’s Fresh Food Market, Millen, Georgia: “The whole store had probably a 15 percent increase in sales, with people coming in to see the display.”
Bobby Inman, store manager for B&T’s Fresh Food Market in
Millen, GA, said, 'The whole store had probably a 15 percent
increase in sales, with people coming in to see the display.'
  • 1st place – $1,500
  • 2nd place – $1,000
  • 3rd place – $750
  • 4th place – $500
  • 5th place – $250
  • Honorable Mention – $100 (100 selected from remaining entries)

The Category Manager Match Program also awarded equivalent prizes to corporate category managers for stores that qualified for a first through fifth place prize or the sweepstakes trip to Key West. All entrants received a free Idaho potato Manchurian ash six-piece steak knife set packaged in a wood grain storage box.

In-store displays were required to incorporate fresh Idaho potatoes (bag, bulk or both) with a clear label showing the Idaho name and the “Grown in Idaho” seal, a clearly marked Idaho dehydrated potato product, any variety of Hormel Real Bacon Toppings, and any variety of Fresh Gourmet Crispy Veggies. The display also needed to use IPC 2022 special themed point-of-sale materials: two double-sided Idaho Potato Lovers logo display signs, one large and two small double-sided signs showing an appetizing photo, and two inflatable Mylar Idaho potato-branded balloons. Displays were required to be in the store’s produce section for at least one week between Feb. 1 and April 15.

For photographs of the winning displays and a complete list of winners, visit www.IdahoPotato.com/Retail.

IPC sponsored a separate display contest for military commissaries Jan. 31-Feb. 6. Prizes were awarded by sales band group, with two winners per group. Each winner received a trophy and $300 (first place winners) or $150 (second place winners) in commissary gift cards.

1st Place Retail Display Winners:

  • 1-5 cash registers: Bobby Inman, B&T’s Fresh Food Market, Millen, GA
  • 6-9 cash registers: McKayla Marks, IGA, Jasper, IN
  • 10+ cash registers: Troy Mundorff, Martin’s Country Market, Ephrata, PA

1st Place Military Display Winners

  • Military sales bands 1 - 3: Vance AFB
  • Military sales band 4: Moffett-Field
  • Military sales band 5: West Point
  • Military sales bands 6 - 7: Bangor NBK
  • Military sales bands 8 - 9: Tinker AFB
  • Military sales bands 10 - 14: Pearl Harbor

2nd Place Military Display Winners

  • Military sales bands 1-3: San Onofre
  • Military sales band 4: Bremerton
  • Military sales band 5: Smokey Point
  • Military sales bands 6-7: Twentynine Palms
  • Military sales bands 8-9: Keesler AFB
  • Military sales bands 10-14: Schofield Barracks
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