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Consumer Demand Spurring Spuds Green Marketing

More potato growers are looking to expand their green marketing efforts in reaction to increasing demand from consumers, according to a report in The Packer.

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association in Antigo, Wis., which provides grower education, government support, and consumer education for its 147 members, has created a Healthy Grown Initiative, in which association members are certified by a third party as reducing input demand and submit to an extensive auditing process.

Although addressing sustainability issues is one of the key demands on the association’s marketing efforts, many members do not see the benefit of it. This year, only about ten grower members will participate in the program. Growers who do participate in the program are required to fill out a considerable amount of paperwork and maintain thorough records, according to the report.

But one Association employee said many more growers would likely participate in the program if they thought it would help them to sell more product. Now that the issue of sustainability is at a tipping point in the potato business, the Association is likely to see stronger participation. Retailers are beginning to ask producers questions about their sustainability practices in a trend which will likely only strengthen, according to one grower.

Growers are switching lighting systems over to more sustainable systems, reducing water and fertilizer usage, or switching to fertilizer that is less harmful to the environment. Leonard Gianessi, Director of the Crop Protection Research Institute, recently presented his talk on the sustainability of potato production with regard to pesticide use at the National Potato Expo this past February. Last year, McDonald’s announced it will survey the amount of pesticides applied to potatoes used in its french fries and other potato products.

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