DENVER — Shelley Olsen of Othello, Washington, and Mike Larsen of Declo, Idaho, were elected to the Potatoes USA Executive Committee as International Marketing Committee Co-Chairs on March 15, 2023, at the organization’s Annual Meeting. This marks Olsen’s sixth year serving on the Board and third year on the Executive Committee. She previously Co-Chaired the Industry Outreach and Domestic Marketing Committees. Larsen is in his sixth year on the Board and second year on the Executive Committee. He Co-Chaired the Research Committee last year and has been a member of the International Marketing and Research Committees.
Olsen works under two family-owned companies, LJ Olsen and Two O’s Inc., where three generations work together, including her husband Chris, who previously served on the Potatoes USA Board, her in-laws, Lynn and Marthann, her two sons, Owen and Connor and his wife, Kaitlyn. Their focus is on growing potatoes for frozen processing. As Co-Chair Olsen states, “It is an honor to drive the growth and accessibility of U.S. potatoes globally. Our committee ensures that international consumers and trade members recognize U.S. potatoes’ remarkable quality and nutritional benefits while managing comprehensive marketing programs in international markets.” In addition to her involvement with Potatoes USA, Olsen serves on the Washington State Potato Commission Marketing and Industry Affairs Committee. She is also the former Chair of the Potato Leadership and Education Foundation Board and a 2015 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) graduate.
Larsen has been working with and raising potatoes for the past 25 years, though he has been involved with agriculture since he was 12. As the General Manager of Mart Group, LLC, operating as Mart Produce, he helps their growers contract, grow, and deliver potatoes, manages new varieties, and develops future markets. Last year, Mart Group, LLC acquired a small frozen potato plant and a dehy potato plant. Larsen assumed the Chief Marketing Officer role to develop new markets for the products, making the organization vertically integrated. As Co-Chair, Larsen says he is “looking forward to working with the committee and supporting management to engage with our international markets to continue to promote high-quality potato products.” He notes that “working together as an industry, we can address issues to keep markets open, for example, continued access to fresh exports to Mexico.” Aside from his position on the Potatoes USA Board, Larsen is a lifetime member of the Leadership Idaho Agriculture and Chairman of the Potato Association of America’s (PAA) Marketing and Utilization Committee. Larsen also graduated from PILI, class of 2017.
The International Marketing Committee is focused on increasing U.S. potato exports across all product types, expanding access for U.S. potatoes across the globe, and ensuring international consumers and trade members know U.S. potatoes for their quality and nutritional benefits. The committee oversees marketing programs for foodservice, retail, ingredient, consumer, market access, and seed potato exports in 25+ international markets.
— Potatoes USA