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Vol.1 ISSUE 2 Summer 2008
January saw the launch of a number of different US frozen potato products on menus and in retail stores in Korea. GS 25, the biggest convenience store chain in Korea, with about 1000 stores nationwide, launched Bennigan’s baked potato. GS 25 tied in with Bennigan’s in October 2007 selling two pasta menus. They found this co-marketing very successful and decided to launch five additional menus that included baked potatoes at their convenience stores.
Home Plus, the 2nd largest hypermarket in Korea with 66 stores nationwide, launched glazed crunch fries at their deli shop in 10 selected stores. This is a ready to eat product served hot in plastic containers.
Costco Korea, with six stores nationwide, launched Mashed Potato & Meat Loaf as a ready-to-eat meal that just needs to be reheated. The mashed potatoes are frozen mashed from the US.
E Mart, the largest hypermarket chain in Korea, recently launched US frozen potato products on its online mall. US frozen potatoes are now on three major online shopping services in Korea. The US frozen potato products listed in the E Mart online mall are shoestring fries, red skin dices with two different flavors, baby bakers, crunch wedges, spudsters, hash browns, and frozen whole potatoes. E Mart is also considering adding these products to the frozen section in its over 100 off line stores nationwide.
Click here to view the E Mart online shopping homepage.
Pizza Etang, a delivery pizza chain in Korea, recently launched a new pizza featuring frozen red skinned wedges from the United States. This new product launch is the result of efforts by the USPB to find new channels and introduce new products into the foreign markets. The launch is also being augmented by promotional support for the USPB.
Pizza Hut, Bennigan’s and Quizno’s Sub in Korea have all added new menu items made with frozen US potatoes. These innovative new uses of US potatoes are the result of merchandizing visits by the United States Potato Board (USPB) representative in the market, in coordination with the US processors. The high profile launches will be supported by USPB promotional funding where needed and should not only increase sales of US frozen potato products, but also spur other restaurants to add new potato dishes to their menus. Pizza Hut
launched a new US potato pizza menu, Fresh Delight, using crispy basket weave fries as a topping. The new item is available at all 286 Pizza Hut stores in Korea.
Bennigan’s launched a new US potato menu, Yogurt Potato. This new menu is served in three different types: Yogurt Shrimp and Potato salad, Yogurt Potato side dish and as part of an appetizer sampler. The new items are available at all 33 Bennigan’s in Korea.
Quizno’s launched a new US frozen potato menu: baked potato wedges. This is the first time they have carried a potato product on their menu, and it is available at all 17 stores in Korea.
The United States Potato Board (USPB) strengthened the positive image of the potato internationally by participating in the 2007 International Symposium and Annual Meeting in Muju, Korea. Put on by the KFN (Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition), the USPB hosted a 1½ hour focused potato session with three top nutrition experts from Korea, Japan and the US who illuminated the virtues of potatoes, including frozen and dehy potatoes. Subject matter during the session included positive potato nutrition facts, the versatility of potato usage, applications of dehy potatoes in mass catering, ensuring the quality of frozen foods via freezing methods, as well as an overview of the US potato industry and quality practices. A USPB conference booth delivered healthy potato information and applications, a new frozen potato attribute research brochure, as well as enabling attendees to sample US mashed potatoes. Additionally, Joongang University professor, Dr. Sang-Do Ha, presented his positive Frozen Potato Attribute Study findings during a research poster session.
The KFN has about 12,000 members, including food technologists, professors, nutritionists, food nutrition related students, as well as food company R&D managers. Reaching out to these members and demonstrating the benefits of US potatoes will help further expand US potato usage into new channels, such as institutional foodservice and benefit USPB International Marketing programs well into the future.
A popular lifestyle program, targeted at women 25 to 49, on Donga cable TV in Korea featured US frozen potato stories, including recommendations for potato recipes as a healthy, refreshing option for the spring. The program also featured popular US frozen menus from Bennigan’s and Quizno’s, both of which are new menus developed with USPB support. Airing for the first time on April 18, the program had five reruns that week and will be rerun again later in 2008.
The USPB has placed a lifestyle program featuring US potatoes on the closed circuit TV broadcasts in the Seoul subway system. The show’s content includes general introduction and nutritional information about US potatoes; the preparation process for four potato dishes; potato dish tasting; US frozen potato products available in the Korean market and information on the USPB in Korea. Aired once per day during May, the program is also available at the #1 internet portal site, www.naver.com, with 11 million daily visitors. This links to the USPB consumer site in Korea which features a healthy potato section, a recipe section and a blog function for user to discuss all things US potato!
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In July 2007, the USPB hired two new representatives in Southeast Asia to extend the USPB’s sphere of influence and help build a stronger marketing base for new exports to the region. Working as an extension of the USPB International Marketing Department, international representatives play a key role to ensure increased use of US potatoes in the markets.
As such, International Marketing Manager, Susan Weller, spent nearly two weeks in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia in November 2007 as part of continuing training for these new potato team members. A variety of meetings with USDA officials, importers and distributors, as well as foodservice and retail personnel, helped to connect with the frozen potato trade, as well as lay the groundwork for further marketing efforts in these countries. One frequent topic was the lack of frozen potato supplies in the region due to shortages of potatoes worldwide. Much of the trade was interested in purchasing US product, but found it difficult to promote potatoes as they were leery of coming up short on supplies.
A restaurant chain in Indonesia recently switched to serving 100 percent US frozen potato products, and added several new items. These changes occurred after the USPB’s representative repeatedly met with the company and provided detailed information on the many different potato products available from the US and addressed concerns about cost and profitability. The rep also offered technical assistance with training the restaurant’s staff in proper storage, handling and preparation, plus cooperative promotional support where needed. The Amigos Restaurant, which was previously only serving ¼” straight cuts of Canadian origin, now serves crinkle cuts, wedges and basket weave cuts from the US. Average sales of frozen potatoes have increased by 35 percent since the introduction.
Another chain, Hotshots, added an additional frozen potato item from the US. They are now serving hash browns, along with shoestring, wedges and twister fries to accompany their flame broiled burgers.
The retailer, Sogo Food Hall Supermarkets, just introduced potato rounds to their selection of five other US frozen potato products. They now carry straight cut, crinkle cut, BBQ flavored wedges, fajita flavored straight cuts, hash browns and potato rounds in their six supermarkets.
SUPERMARKET IN MALAYSIA ADDS THREE ADDITIONAL FROZEN PRODUCTS FROM THE US
Cathay Cineplex is the 3rd largest cinema chain in Malaysia and continues to be one of the key players in the entertainment business. They have theaters in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu. In an effort to be different from the bigger cinema chains, they now want to offer a wider variety of food and beverages so their customer will have a different cinema experience. The USPB representative in Malaysia held a number of meetings with the Food & Beverage Manager and Marketing Manager to encourage them to add frozen potatoes to the menu in their Cinesnax shop located in all their cinemas, as it will be popular with their customers who are mainly teenagers. They started serving US wedges and crinkle cuts on a trial basis in March, and as the response has been encouraging, they have now featured the products on their regular printed menu.
The USPB is pleased to report Cathay has now also started selling other cuts of frozen potatoes on a regular basis in their newly launched Platinum Movie Suites in their main flagship Damansara cinema. These are the more premium movie halls where the consumer pays a higher ticket for deluxe seats and food delivered right to their seats. For the patrons of the platinum movie halls, Cathay is offering them Lattice cut, Spicy Wedges and Potato Spudsters. They are also offering Lattice cut potatoes in their Platinum Plate which also includes Fish Fingers, Chicken Wings and Onion Rings.
Rather than set up its own booth, with no ability to actually sell any product, the USPB representative office in Mexico supported the booths of US processors at the Abastur 2007 Trade Show held in Mexico City in October 2007. This is the largest trade show in Mexico targeted to the foodservice sector. USPB technical personnel were stationed at each US processor booth to provide technical advice about proper storage, handling and preparation to potential and current customers of US frozen potatoes. This technical support is really appreciated by both the customers and importer/distributors, and many issues were solved during the show.
During the Abastur show, the USPB also supported the All American Café, set up by the US Agricultural Trade Office. The café highlighted a number of different US products, including frozen potatoes, with a chef preparing samples and giving cooking demonstrations.
Support of US processors in Mexico also includes annual awards banquets hosted by the USPB for the distributors from each company. The events include presentations on the USPB frozen programs in Mexico, awards for the best distributors, and, of course, a bit of entertainment.
Price Shoes, a chain of big shoe stores in Mexico, with eight stores throughout the country, is now offering US fries in its in-store food court. This represents an important success for the USPB as this is a new channel where US potatoes are being sold. Hopefully other similar food courts will see the success and follow in their “footsteps”.
CHEF CONTESTS IN MEXICO FOCUS ON NEW USES OF US FROZEN POTATOES
As part of its continuing strategy to develop new market opportunities for US potatoes, the USPB has initiated a frozen potato program in Central America. Countries to be targeted include Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.
Effective January 1, 2008, TQ Marketing Consultants, based in San Jose, Costa Rica, began representing the USPB in this new marketing endeavor. Tatiana Quiros, head of TQ Marketing Consultants, is well-respected by both USDA officials and other commodity boards working in the region.
Quiros acquired her commodity marketing know-how by initially working for the US Foreign Agricultural Services and continues to conduct an array of Central American concentrated studies for a variety of agricultural cooperators. TQ Marketing Consultants presently represents both the Washington Apple Commission and the California Table Grape Commission with a team of six merchandisers positioned throughout the CAFTA countries.
From January – June, 2008, contacts were developed and the groundwork was laid for the program. The effort began at the end of January with a program planning trip by the USPB International Marketing Manager for frozen potato products, Susan Weller, to the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
The full market development program got underway at the beginning of the new marketing year, July 2008. The USPB is looking forward to working with US processors to fully exploit the opportunities in these emerging markets.
As a result of US-CAFTA-DR, US frozen potato exports to the region are growing. Exports to the signatory countries grew 27percent to 14,642 metric tons, valued at $10,294,000 in 2007 as compared to 2006. Specific market increases were 29 percent to Guatemala, 16 percent to Honduras, 4 percent to El Salvador, 65 percent to the DR, 69 percent to Nicaragua and 18 percent to Costa Rica. In response to this opportunity, the USPB hired a new representative to cover the region and has initiated Market Access Program (MAP) funded programs in July 2008.
US frozen and dehydrated potato products were introduced to the Japanese media at a tasting event held the end of November in Tokyo. The event attracted 27 people from 18 different media outlets including Cuisine Magazine, Nikkei Restaurant, Nutrition & Cuisine and Baker’s News. By focusing on the foodservice trade media, it is hoped the many new developments using US potatoes will reach a much broader audience in Japan, and thus, wider acceptance and usage of US potatoes. Publication of articles on these new uses of US potatoes will reach many more chefs, bakers and food manufacturers than the USPB can ever hope to reach through direct mailing or one-on-one meetings.
Three different chefs made speeches about their developments using frozen and dehy potatoes in Japanese and international cuisine. The presenters emphasized the convenience, versatility, and usefulness of US potato products. David Chiddo from T.Y. Express, a company which runs four restaurants, discussed the veggie mashed potato recipes he developed using frozen and dehy. Jiro Fujimori from Bigot Tokyo, which runs four bakery outlets, emphasized the versatility of potatoes to add moisture and soften the dough. He also explained that bread made with potatoes provides a greater sensation of fullness than bread made with wheat flour alone, and that you can create a crunchier texture as well. Toyoyoshi Ashida from Kotobukiya Foods explained the potato noodles they have developed using dehy and the fact the noodles have a smoother texture, are springier and last longer after cooking.
The media then got to taste all of the different products discussed and to look at the wide range of frozen and dehydrated potato products available from the US. There was also a question and answer session where the media further explored the concepts presented and learned more about US potato products.
The United States Potato Board (USPB) participated with a booth, samples and seminar at the Food Systems Solutions trade show in Tokyo, targeting institutional foodservice operators, mainly cafeterias, from schools, hospitals, nursing homes and factories. Focusing on the nutrition, ease and economic efficiency of frozen and dehydrated potatoes from the US, two kinds of veggie mashed potatoes and a potato soup were provided for participants to taste. A wide range of US potato products were displayed, including frozen bakers, mashed, diced, sliced and shred and dehy flakes, granules, dice, sliced and shred. According to event organizers, 31,316 visitors attended the three days of the show. The USPB will follow-up with the contacts made to help these institutional foodservice personnel and companies better understand the role US potato products can play in their operations.
The USPB representative office in Japan exhibited at the 11th FABEX Food Show in Tokyo, April 9-11, focusing on the use of US mashed potatoes (both dehy and frozen) in quick service and deli food service settings. Eleven different types of dehy and frozen mashed potato products were displayed, along with information on their advantage over local fresh potatoes. The display also provided information on innovative serving suggestions appropriate to these specialized food service settings. Four different dishes, made with US mashed potatoes, were served to the visitors: beef stew & mashed potatoes, mentai potato soup, potato paste matcha mizuyokan and potato cheesecake. The show attracted 55,383 visitors over the three days and the USPB provided 4,550 sample meals made with US mashed potatoes.
Costco Japan is experiencing phenomenal success with its new meatloaf and mashed potato plates, available at the deli section of the stores. The plate contains 600 grams of meatloaf along with 650 grams of US frozen mashed potatoes. Costco is reportedly using one container of frozen mashed potatoes, which is 1500 cases or 20 metric tons every two months. This is equivalent to approximately 441 hundredweight of raw US potatoes per month, just for this one product.
The United States Potato Board (USPB) Japan Representative Office announced Tokyo Dome Corporation held “All Sorts of Potato Dishes—Baseball Café American Potato Carnival” from May 1-31 at the Tokyo Dome City Baseball Café. During the event, the café menu featured special dishes showcasing frozen potatoes produced in the United States.
Modeled upon the theme of Major League Baseball, the Tokyo Dome City Baseball Café is a restaurant with an interior design intended to look like an American baseball park from the “good old days,” with the seats divided into different areas such as those resembling a baseball field, the dugout, pressroom and clubhouse. The café also hosts fairs for limited periods of time during which special related dishes are offered on the menu.
According to one of the event’s organizers, the reason the US potato was chosen as the theme for this fair in May is that “it can be used in a wide range of dishes—whether as a light snack, main dish or dessert—and conjures up the image of America, which suits a café modeled upon the theme of Major League Baseball.” The limited-time dishes offered at the café, made with US-produced frozen potatoes, will include a five-ounce baked potato and shredded IQF potatoes. The chef in charge was impressed by how easy it is to use frozen potatoes, “it helps shorten preparation times because they can be used right away.”
(From left: Piping Hot Baked Potato; Cheese & Potato Crispy Burrito)
To promote US frozen and dehy mashed potatoes to restaurants, delis, cafeterias and institutional food service, the USPB hosted a mashed potato seminar at the Oda Culinary Institute in Tokyo, April 22, to demonstrate why they should add mashed potatoes to their menus. Attended by 30 food service decision makers, all attendees reported being inspired by the presentation in the post event survey. The instructor of the seminar was Chef Tetsuya Shimada, a well known French style chef, who has made numerous appearances in magazines, books and on TV. Chef Shimada emphasized the ease of use, versatility and cost savings from US dehy and frozen mashed potatoes, and he added tips for each of the recipes he presented. Chef Shimada also presented and served the following dishes: dill flavored salmon rillettes (frozen), beef cheek rillettes (frozen), blini sandwich (dehy), mushroom flan (dehy), potato ravioli with cucumber sauce (dehy), potato potage (dehy), hachis parmentier (frozen), cream cheese dip wrapped in crepe (dehy). The seminar was repeated in Osaka, May 20, with special guests Susan Weller from the Board staff and USPB International Marketing Committee Co-Chair Cheryl Koompin as part of the program. The Osaka seminar took place at the Tsuji Academy Cooking School with 31 attendees from industries like restaurants, hotels, etc., who are responsible for decision making with menus.
Ever wonder how many Chinese restaurants there must be in China? Well the answer is, almost 4 million! Now just think how many potatoes it would take to supply all of these restaurants if they served just one dish using US frozen potatoes! The USPB is working hard in China to make this a reality, and we are pleased to report another success. In December 2007, Shanghai Onion Restaurant launched a new menu item, "US Crinkle Cut Fries with Fried Fish Beifengtang Style", in their eight stores in Shanghai.
Shanghai Onion is an up and coming, trendy restaurant featuring Chinese cuisine, especially Canton style. The chain was established in 2005 and now has eight stores, all located in the main commercial area downtown or by big shopping malls. The chain's annual sales reached $13.8 million in 2007, and they have plans to open another six stores inShanghai in 2008.
The USPB representative in China first visited the restaurant in October 2007 to introduce US frozen potato products and explain the USPB's programs and available assistance. From this, the Executive Chef invited the USPB to give a detailed seminar to him and his staff. In November 2007, an on-site training seminar was held at one of the restaurants, and five dishes featuring US frozen potato products were demonstrated. After the training, the restaurant chose to use Crinkle Cut fries and developed the dish with fried fish. Customer response has been very good, with 27,200 servings ordered in the first month, which required 75 cases of US frozen Crinkle Cut fries.
As part of the USPB’s continuing efforts to project a healthy image for US potato products in China, another in a series of press releases on potato nutrition was released in January 2008. Through early March, 57 media outlets in 19 cities across China had utilized this release. Additionally, an advertorial was released at the end of February, with 10 media outlets publishing the story by mid-March. The next press release went out in mid-March. The USPB also partnered with the magazine Trendshealth, resulting in the delivery of the USPB nutrition brochure in 180,000 copies of the magazine delivered in Shanghai and Beijing. Media seminars on US potato nutrition and health were held this spring in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
The restaurant and hotel trade are also being reached with the USPB messages on profitability and new product applications for US frozen potato products through advertisements in the five top professional food magazines published in China.
Johnny Moo restaurants in Shanghai formerly used Canadian fries, but after a USPB China representative visit to the store at the end of 2007, Johnny Moo got more information about US frozen potato products and support from USPB’s marketing activities, so it switched to US frozen potato products in all three stores. The US products now being served are US shoestring fries, US curly fries and US hash browns.
The first Johnny Moo restaurant was established in 1995, with the decor following the nostalgic feeling of the ‘50s and ‘60s in the USA, and is serving valued, genuine, US style food. Ms. Liu, the General Manager of Johnny Moo restaurants commented US fries have a more natural color and better taste compared with Canadian fries, customers also like the US fries. After switching to US fries, the sales volume was increased to 120 cases per month from 70 cases. The sales of hash browns also increased to 11 cases from five cases per month. Johnny Moo also plans to do a co-op promotion with the USPB when the fourth store opens. This year, Johnny Moo would also open the first restaurant in Beijing to serve delicious US frozen potato products to more customers.
The MS Excel file below called, POTATOBoard Oct-Dec CY 2007, contains last quarter 2007, 2007 YE and historical performance dating from 2003. Here are some notes:
Questions? Contact Tim O’Connor at the USPB, firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-369-7783.
US Annual Export Figures for US Frozen Potato Products
©2008 United States Potato Board