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North American frozen potato market shows remarkable resilience: An in-depth analysis with Bret Nedrow of Simplot

In a presentation at the 2023 Potato Business Summit earlier this year, Bret Nedrow, Director of Global Raw Procurement for J.R. Simplot Company, unveiled the dynamics of the frozen potato market in North America, painting a comprehensive picture of its current state and future prospects.

A video of the presentation can be watched on the United Potato Growers of America’s YouTube channelPotato News Today provides a brief summary of the presentation below.

Despite the global challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the North American frozen potato market has demonstrated an impressive resilience. The United States, in particular, has been a driving force, accounting for a significant portion of the total market volume. This resilience is further underscored by the fact that the demand for frozen potatoes, especially fries, has remained robust even in the face of global disruptions.

Nedrow’s presentation highlighted the geographical distribution of potato processing across North America. Key regions, including the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and East Coast, have emerged as the primary hubs for processing. Industry giants such as Lamb Weston, J.R. Simplot, McCain, and Cavendish have strategically positioned their factories in these regions, ensuring a steady supply chain and efficient distribution.

In the retail landscape, potato chips have emerged as the top seller, closely followed by fresh potatoes and frozen fries. An interesting shift in consumer behavior has been observed, with a growing preference for smaller pack sizes of fresh potatoes, especially those weighing under two pounds.

The food service sector, which faced significant headwinds during the pandemic, is on a path of recovery. Potatoes have solidified their position as a staple, featuring on 83% of U.S. menus. Furthermore, the variety of potato dishes available has seen a 5% increase from the previous year, indicating a renewed interest and innovation in potato-based cuisine.

On the international front, Nedrow emphasized the evolving dynamics of the global market. A notable 20% of the U.S. potato crop finds its way to international shores. The burgeoning market in Mexico, coupled with other global opportunities, presents a promising avenue for U.S. exports.

However, the journey is not without its challenges. Rising production costs, water scarcity in pivotal production regions, potential seed supply issues, and labor uncertainties loom on the horizon. These challenges underscore the importance of adaptability and strategic planning for the industry’s stakeholders.

In conclusion, the North American frozen potato market, underpinned by its adaptability and a deep understanding of market dynamics, stands poised for continued growth and success. With industry leaders like Simplot at the helm, the future looks promising for this beloved staple.

For a detailed analysis, watch the full presentation on the United Potato Growers of America’s YouTube channel. A slide version of the presentation can be accessed as a pdf file here.

Source: United Potato Growers of America
Photo: Pexels from Pixabay

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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