At the 2023 Potato Business Summit held earlier this year, Kim Breshears, the Chief Marketing Officer of Potatoes USA, presented an enlightening overview of the potato market.
Breshears began her presentation by emphasizing that potatoes have consistently been America’s favorite vegetable. According to annual studies conducted by Potatoes USA, potatoes have held the top spot for the past five years, surpassing other popular vegetables like broccoli, corn, and tomatoes. Not only are they the nation’s favorite vegetable, but potatoes also dominate as the preferred takeout dish, side dish, and are the number one vegetable sold in the country.
Diving deeper into the distribution of the potato crop, Breshears revealed that 40% of the potatoes grown in the U.S. are directed towards the retail sector, another 40% to the food service sector, and the remaining 20% are exported. An analysis of the past decade showed that the sales of potatoes in the U.S. have consistently exceeded the amount grown domestically. This surge in demand is further supported by data indicating a 9% increase in import sales, a slight 3% dip in retail sales, and a significant 12% boost in food service sales compared to the previous fiscal year.
Interestingly, while retail sales of potatoes have seen a 6% increase over the last five years, food service sales experienced a 9% decline. However, Breshears was quick to point out that this decline was from a peak period and the sector is now showing strong signs of recovery post-pandemic.
Another intriguing trend highlighted by Breshears was the shift in consumer spending on food. For many years, the majority of food expenditure was on items consumed at home. However, around 2018-2019, spending on food consumed outside surpassed that of home consumption. This trend briefly reversed during the pandemic but is now swinging back, with 51% of food expenditure being on items eaten away from home.
The data presented by Kim Breshears at the 2023 Potato Business Summit underscores the unwavering popularity of potatoes in the U.S. market. As America’s favorite vegetable continues to thrive, the industry looks forward to a promising future.