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Idaho Potato Commission gears up for new nationwide marketing campaign

Idaho potato growers expect to harvest 13 billion pounds of spuds this season, and they're marketing them across the country in some creative ways. (KBOI photo)

Idaho potato growers expect to harvest 13 billion pounds of potatoes this season.

That's a lot of potatoes.

If you took 13 billion pounds of potatoes and covered the Blue Turf at Albertsons Stadium from end zone to end zone, the pile of spuds would rise a mile high.

But no doubt about it, weather challenges this season have had an influence on Idaho's famous potatoes.

"It has reduced yields a little bit," said Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission. "Our acres are also down about 15,000 acres less than last year. So weather has had an impact. It does appear the quality is still very good. We're just going to have fewer potatoes."

And while the potato harvest is wrapping up, the Idaho Potato Commission is gearing up to launch its sixth nationwide advertising campaign, featuring what Muir calls the best marketing idea the commission has ever had.

The Big Idaho Potato Truck, which hauls a six-ton potato (of course, it's not a real one) all over the country and usually gets lost along the way, has become part of American pop culture while making Idaho's famous potatoes even more renown.

It will be featured in a new television advertisement.

"We have traveled (with the truck) to all 48 states multiple times," Muir said. "We haven't been to Alaska or Hawaii. We're still trying to figure out how to do that. We're actually looking at a barge opportunity to take it to Hawaii because we have folks in Hawaii that are just pleading for us to bring the truck. I'm serious. And Alaska as well."

Famous Idaho Potatoes will get more national exposure as the year winds down with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the New Year's Eve Idaho Potato Drop.

"It has been one of the crazy marketing ideas to drop a 18-foot Idaho potato in front of the state capitol," Muir said. "Who would have expected 30 to 40 thousand people to come out in single-digit weather and enjoy it? People are coming from all over the world to see it."

The potato industry is a big score for Idaho, worth 5 billion dollars to the state and 30,000 jobs.

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