In a remarkable display of market resilience, potato retail sales have soared in the third quarter of 2023, marking a significant 9.5% increase from the same period last year. This growth spans across all categories of potatoes, as highlighted in a recent report by Potatoes USA.
Despite a marginal dip in total volume sales by 1.7%, the fresh potato segment has largely maintained its ground, showing a negligible decrease of just 0.4% compared to the previous year. This stability in fresh volume sales is primarily driven by notable increases in specific varieties: yellow potatoes rose by 3.3%, red potatoes by 2.8%, and fingerling potatoes by an impressive 3.9%. Geographically, the Southeast region and California led the charge in regional fresh volume growth, with increases of 2.5% and 1.8%, respectively.
In terms of pricing, the fresh potato price per pound has escalated to $1.12, marking a 6.3% rise from last year. It’s important to note that overall volume sales are still hovering above the levels seen before the pandemic, indicating a sustained consumer interest in potatoes.
The quarter witnessed the most substantial growth in dollar sales in the canned (45.1%), frozen (31.8%), and instant (17.1%) potato categories. Additionally, deli-prepared sides and canned potatoes also experienced a surge in volume sales, by 3.1% and 63.3% respectively. Despite this, canned potatoes account for only 1% of the total volume of sales.
However, not all categories fared equally. The refrigerated, instant, and frozen potato segments saw the most significant declines in volume, dropping by 7.2%, 6.0%, and 5.6%, respectively.
A closer look at fresh potatoes reveals a mixed bag in terms of pack sizes and sales dynamics. While dollar sales for pack sizes greater than 10 pounds plummeted by 29.9%, there was a substantial increase in dollar sales for ten-pound packs (32.9%), although their volume fell by 2.9%. The most significant dollar sales increases were observed in five-pound (31.5%) and 10-pound (32.9%) bags. In contrast, volume sales declined for all sizes larger than 8 pounds.
On a brighter note, smaller packages, specifically those less than two pounds and five-pound packs, saw an increase in volume sales by 1.3% and 3.7%, respectively.
This quarter’s performance underscores the dynamic nature of the potato market, with varying trends across different categories and pack sizes. Despite some fluctuations, the overall increase in dollar sales highlights the enduring appeal of potatoes among consumers.