Serving fresh-cooked potatoes for dinner meant up to an hourâ€™s prep time as little as a decade ago. No longer. Enter fast-fixing, value-added potatoes.
â€œGrowers are doing a great job with this category, be it with the choice of potato, flavorings or packaging,â€ says Richard Stiles, recently retired director of produce and floral forÂ Rednerâ€™s Markets, a Reading, PA-chain with 44 markets and 13 quick shoppes in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. â€œThese convenience products have really taken off with consumers.â€
â€œWhile value-added potatoes will continue to be a growing segment in the category, most growth in the past year was in the fresh-bagged potato segment,â€ says Russell Wysocki, president ofÂ RPE, makers of the Tasteful Selections brand of bite-sized potatoes. â€œOur companyâ€™s value-added potato products are up 17 percent versus a year ago.â€
â€œSmaller potatoes have grown more than 30 percent, according to IRI,â€ says Michael Castagnetto, vice president of sourcing for Robinson Fresh, based in Eden Prairie, MN. â€œThe two big reasons for this growth are better flavor and shorter cook time. Small potatoes are becoming the darling of the category because of the flavor.â€
There are two major challenges for retailers in maximizing sales of fresh value-added potatoes: knowing what constitutes products in this category and finding ways to introduce these newer products to consumers.
The opportunities are incremental sales on high-margin items that tick the boxes for todayâ€™s consumerâ€™s biggest culinary demand trends.