Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tayto Set for World Domination?

I remember sitting in a Bolivian hostel bar in January 2008, there was a visible air of excitement amongst the contingent of Irish residents. Person after person walked into the bar asking 'Has it arrived yet?'. The hostel was owned by an Irishman, and, spotting an opportunity to meet his customers needs he had arranged a 'care' package of Irish staples to be sent from Tipparary to La Paz. The box was packed with Barry's Tea and Tayto, a real taste of home many hadn't had in months. Of course the non-Irish residents didn't really understand our excitement for such basic products, at highly inflated prices (Tayto sold at 25 Boliviano's - 2.50 euros), or why they sold out in a matter of hours.

But for many Tayto is as Irish as Guinness, or U2, albeit much less known. However that might be about to change as Largo Foods, owners of the Tayto brand, sold a 25% stake in the business to raise capital. Part of the proceeds will go to pay debt owed by the company, but the funds will also open up expansion opportunities in Europe, especially the UK and Germany, and China.

Largo Foods bought Tayto in 2006 and have reinforced the brands iconic status through inventive marketing strategies. These have included a best selling book (Mr Tayto: The Man Inside the Jacket) and the recently opened Tayto Park, positioning Mr Tayto as Irelands answer to Mickey Mouse and the rest of the Disney theme-park crew.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the world takes to the brand, and its intrinsic Irishness should play an important role, seeing how we were world renowned for spuds! For now at least, with no plans to enter the much sought after Bolivian market, those care packages will have to keep making their way across the world.

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