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Pandemic impact: Foodservice losses reduce total potato sales in the US

According to a news release issued by Potatoes USA, there was a 5% decline in the utilization of potatoes grown in the U.S. during the July 2019 – June 2020 marketing year (MY20). This conclusion was drawn from an analysis of the potatoes and potato products sold at retail and foodservice, accounting for the volume of U.S. exports and imports.

Despite the 9% increase in sales through retail, Potatoes USA says the decline occurred due to the 13% decrease in sales to the foodservice sector and 2% decrease in exports. In terms of utilization of the U.S. crop the decline was further compounded by a 7% increase in imports.

It is important to note that this decline occurred at the end of the marketing year. Sales to foodservice, retail, and exports, were up for the July – December 2019 period.

Foodservice sales have been accounting for a greater and greater share of total potato sales in the U.S., peaking at 58% in marketing year 2019.  This upward trend was reversed in MY20, with the foodservice share dropping to 53% of the total.

For the marketing year, retail sales were up 8.7%, an increase of 1.3 million pounds. From a percentage perspective, frozen and dehydrated saw the largest growth, both with an increase of over 15%. Potato chips, the largest volume category at retail, increased by 5.5%, and fresh was up by 9.5% for the marketing year. Within fresh sales, russets increased by 10%, yellows increased by 13%, and whites increased by 16%. The only decline was for reds, which were down 5% due to supply issues.

The impact of COVID restrictions was uneven, impacting limited-service restaurants the least. Therefore, frozen sales were only down 10%. However, since full-service restaurants suffered a much greater decline in sales, fresh potato sales to foodservice were down by 19%.

Source: Potatoes USA

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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