Irish potato farmers are launching a rearguard action against health conscious and time poor millennials who have been seduced by the charms of quinoa and couscous.
The new €1.95 million EU-funded campaign will attempt to reverse the fortunes of the humble spud which has been hammered by changing consumer tastes.
Part of the strategy is to hire social media 'influencers' to target potential consumers.
A spokeswoman for An Bord Bia, The Irish Food Board, said the advertising campaign was at an early stage and that no influencers had yet been announced.
An extensive survey conducted last year by An Bord Bia found that the potato had an image problem among the younger generation.
In the 18-34 age group, products such as quinoa were associated with words such as “hipster, modern, new and young” while the potato drew comparisons with the “older generation, farmers and rural types.”
Also, over half of the people in this age group believed that potatoes contained too many calories, whereas the older generation associated the spud with healthy components such as fibre, vitamin c and magnesium.
The average potato contains 100 calories whereas an average avocado, a favourite of millennials, contains 250 calories. According to the Board Bia survey millennials, which is a term applied to people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, were far less inclined to buy potatoes.
Irish people aged 18-34 purchase roughly 78 kilos of spuds every year compared to older age groups who buy on average 123 kilos. This is the second campaign of this type to use funds from the EU.
Previously An Bord Bia partnered with a UK agency to broaden the appeal of Irish potatoes among British millennials.
On this occasion, it is partnering with agencies in Belgium and France to develop new markets in those countries.
An Bord Bia - along with CNIPT from France, VLAM from Belgium and Europatat, the EU Potato Trade Association - will launch the new campaign called: ‘Potatoes, prepare to be surprised – Europe’s favourite since 1536’ this April.
The campaign aims to convince young people the potato is tasty and easy to cook, and will do it mostly through social media, sponsored posts and advertorials.
The lowest number of potatoes were planted in Ireland last year, while 2018 saw its second lowest level.
Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), which will jointly run the advertising campaign along with An Bord Bia, said the sector faces a bleak future unless there are changes.
Speaking at the National Potato Conference, which was held in Dublin yesterday and organised jointly by An Bord Bia and the IFA, Lorcan Bourke, fresh produce and potato manager at An Bord Bia, said: “Today’s National Potato Conference positions the potato as ‘the food of the future’. The crop has many benefits including its high nutritional content and its natural sustainability credentials.
“These themes will feature in the wider EU-campaign, as we know that these are issues important to our target audience of people aged 18-34.”
Source: The Telegraph