The U.S. Potato Board is seeing early interest in a campaign introducing and building demand for fresh potatoes in the Philippines.

A Sept. 17-19 industry trade mission for U.S. suppliers included a trade seminar for Filipino importers, distributors, retailers, restaurant owners and quality managers, according to a news release.

U.S. potatoes making inroads in PhilippinesBefore June 2013, the Philippine government only allowed U.S. potato imports for processing but the rule was changed after four years of work by U.S. industry and government officials, according to the release.

During the Denver-based board’s initial marketing activities, U.S. suppliers visited retail outlets and warehouse facilities to learn about the market’s needs and insights on consumer purchasing habits.

Seminar participants learned more about the U.S. potato industry, quality and varieties and specifics on how to import, store and handle U.S. fresh potatoes, according to the release.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service and professors from the Philippines College of Food Technology participated in a seminar, which preceded individual meetings of U.S. suppliers and local importers, according to the release.

The events concluded with a trade reception that showcased U.S. fresh potatoes in a variety of dishes, according to the release.

Organizers expected 60 seminar participants but saw more than 80 and quickly received trade leads for sales, Sarah Reece, the board’s international marketing manager of table-stock, said in the release.