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Idaho Potato Commission president announces retirement plans

Frank Muir, who has been president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission(IPC) since July 2003, announced that he would be retiring in six months. “In my commission meeting on Wednesday [March 24], I made an announcement on my plans to retire,” Muir told Rand Green of The Produce News. “I haven’t set a specific date,” but it will be sometime around mid-September.

When Muir took the helm at the IPC 18 years ago, farm gate revenues for Idaho potatoes were at a 15-year low. Nationally, the famous and once highly regarded Idaho russet had lost much of its sheen. Moreover, potatoes in general were under attack from proponents of low-carb diets, and nearly every media mention of potatoes was negative.

Muir was brought aboard, he said, “to turn this thing around,” and turn it around he did — with strong support from the commissioners, the commission staff and members of the industry, as he is quick to point out. “Obviously, I don’t do this by myself.”

Muir’s first focus was to launch a campaign to fight back against the prevalent scientifically flawed misinformation that potatoes were deficient in nutritional and dietary benefits. Today, media mentions of potatoes are much more likely than not to tout the their dietary benefits. 

Muir also challenged shippers to expand their markets internationally. They did so, and immediately Idaho became the market leader in Mexico. Today, Idaho ships fresh potatoes to 20 countries.

The IPC’s marketing and advertising efforts under Muir have garnered more than 100 awards. For the past 10 years, the IPC has sponsored The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl held at Albertson’s Stadium in Boise, ID. With more than 2 million viewers and listeners, it is essentially “a four-hour infomercial for Idaho potatoes,” he said.

Source: The Produce News. Read the full story here
Photo: Frank Muir at a food festival circa 2009 with Mr. Food (Art Ginsberg), a spokesperson for Idaho potatoes, and Food Network celebrity Rachel Ray | The Produce News

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