The United States potato industry may get a boost in the sale of french fries in Japan with a marketing connection with the U.S. dairy industry.
Each group uses the same Japanese marketing/promotion firm. Because the Japanese diet is very deficient in calcium and other nutrients, it is believed the concept of cheese toppings on fries will move more products for both groups.
Christine Anthony, chairperson of the National Potato Promotion Board, said upon return home to Wisconsin from a week-long trade mission with her grower/husband, Victor, and Bart Connors of Washington state, that the advertising/promotion connection could be a natural.
She also stated that a move was made while in Tokyo to get fresh potatoes into Japan. They were told Japanese produce buyers would protect the small Japanese potato farm industry for fresh sales. They are using phytosanitary and disease concerns as a trade barrier to keep U.S. potatoes out, Anthony explained.
Anthony also stated that a push would be made to overcome a concept in Japan that fries are only for children. By using various toppings, it is hoped fries will be accepted—especially with restaurants—by adults.
“It was an outstanding trip. Our Board staff did an outstanding job. We were well received,” Anthony said. At one point they held a seminar which was attended by 250 foodservice representatives.