Side Delights revealed recently released trend data on the growing focus on the health benefits of foods and the impact it has on consumer behavior. Since the inception of the pandemic, healthy-eating and immunity has continued to gain importance with consumers, and it shows in their shopping habits. Side Delights says its potatoes are grown in the best potato growing areas, stored in high-tech storage facilities, and packed and delivered close to customers/final mile experts.
Covid-19 delivered a Christmas like no other. National and local lockdowns created a lot of uncertainty during the run up to the festive period, with many Christmas plans forced to change last minute due to government restrictions. The industry body says all that uncertainty did not stop people from celebrating. 2020 was the biggest ever Christmas in the UK for food retail, with food and drink sales excluding alcohol growing by £912m to £8.1bn. However, this was not enough to outweigh the losses we saw in the out of home market, which declined by £1.4bn.
Total potato sales at retail were at five-year record highs for both dollar and volume sales in 2020, according to a press release issued by Potatoes USA today. The industry body says dollar sales increased by 16% compared to 2019 and all categories, except deli-prepared sides, grew by double-digit dollar sales. Fresh potato sales increased by almost 21% in dollars and 15% in volume. All types increased in dollar and volume sales by at least 6%.
February is Potato Lover’s Month, and New England based Arrowfarms announced recently that its Morning Kiss Organic and Gold Bell companies are introducing new, compostable paper bag potato packaging. “Our new bags, which are fully compostable at home, fulfill a strong consumer demand for sustainable packaging,” says Michael Guptill of Morning Kiss Organic. “We hope retailers will join us in this effort to increase sustainable packaging offerings in stores.”
January has been a quieter month for potato markets. For most in the market, it has been more subdued than historically. Following the EU-exit agreement, exports of fresh potatoes have been able to continue, although there was some disruption at ports at the start of the month, reports AHDB Analyst Alex Cook. Processing sectors have seen reductions to demand levels from December. The market has been hit hard by the national closure of education sectors alongside dine-in hospitality.
EarthFresh today launched a new winter promotion highlighting their premium white potato variety – the Polar White. The company says in a press release that this white potato has an excellent taste profile and is a growing favorite throughout the US. “White potatoes are up 10% across the US, and the Northeast remains the dominant region accounting for 50% of all white potato sales nationally,” says Shilo Sammy, Director of Customer Insights at EarthFresh.
Turnover and pre-tax profits grew at a major supplier of potatoes to retail giant Marks & Spencer during its latest financial year. Lincolnshire-based Manor Fresh in the UK has reported a turnover of £55.9m for the 12 months to 25 April 2020, up from £54.3m. Pre-tax profits went from £1.1m to £1.5m over the same period. The company says new business development opportunities continues to be progressed.
According to MountainKing’s research, represented by a combination of customer feedback and industry reports, fresh potato sales increase 21 percent with the use of high-graphic display sleeves depicting a particular meal. MountainKing’s display sleeves present images of various meal possibilities with the company’s different potato varieties. “Frankly, we weren’t surprised with the sales increase figures,” says Andreas Trettin, marketing director for MountainKing.
Record potato retail sales continued from October to December 2020, the second quarter of Potatoes USA’s marketing year 2021. The industry body says in a press release that all three months saw an increase in both dollar and volume sales, with the largest growth in December. Total store potato sales grew 9.3% in volume and 12.3% in value. Prices also increased for consumers by 2.7%, which contributed to the 12.3% increase in dollar sales.
Scottish potato business Scotty Brand has cut almost 27 tonnes of plastic from its packaging in a year. Scotty Brand said it introduced a raft of plastic-saving measures across its range to help protect the environment in September 2019 which included thinner, recyclable plastic on its 2kg potato bags, Baby Potato bags and Chippy Chip packs and removing trays inside its Baking Potato packs. In total, these steps have seen Scotty Brand save 26,890kg of plastic.
The recyclable packaging trend: PepsiCo’s partnership with bioplastics manufacturer Danimer Scientific
PepsiCo joined forces with Danimer Scientific several years ago with the goal to develop sustainable flexible packaging, Danimer says in a news release published on its website. According to the release, Danimer Scientific developed biobased compostable packaging for PepsiCo’s snack brands in the past. The new initiative is said to be “right in line with PepsiCo’s announced strategy to make all of its packaging recoverable or recyclable.”
John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer at Potatoes USA provides insight from this year’s Sales and Utilization study of US potatoes. “With everything that has occurred this past marketing year, it is very important for us to understand what has happened with the sales of potatoes in the US market and how the crop was utilized based on an analysis of potatoes and products sold at retail and food service and accounting for the volume of US exports and imports,” Toasperm says.
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, and accounting for the volume of U.S. exports and 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.
Fears have been voiced that English-grown potatoes will be effectively off the menu in Northern Ireland within days, unless a specific deal on tubers is hammered out by the UK government, writes Adam Kula in News Letter today. According to Kula, long-time potato merchant Brendan Donnelly made the comments as the end of the transition period next Friday looms – and he was backed up by DUP farming figure William Irwin, who echoed the same worries about a “crazy” de facto blockade on GB potatoes.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its weekly report that retail demand is on the rise in Ireland as we approach the Christmas peak period. The food service sector continues to trade this week, which is also welcome. In the UK anecdotal reports of storage issues emerged this week. Across Europe the processing market is quiet, with some factories closing on alternative weeks and some factories are closing for the Christmas break which is unheard of.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called on all retailers to recognise the work of potato farmers and to consider the economic sustainability of the Irish potato sector. IFA potato chairman Thomas McKeown said that, in recent weeks, some retailers have raised the specifications on potatoes to “unattainable levels”. The association has said that this is hitting producer incomes and leading to high levels of food waste.
As the holiday season gets closer, demand for Wisconsin potatoes is stronger than last year. “We have a good supply of Wisconsin red and gold potatoes from this year’s crop along with an excellent supply of year-round of russet potatoes,” says Christine Lindner, marketing manager for Friesland, WI-based Alsum Farms & Produce. Lindner says the company continues to add potato acreage.
A survey conducted by the research firm Morning Consult found that 47% of families say they will cancel holiday get-togethers. What does this mean for potato sales? “We know that potatoes are the most popular side dish on the Thanksgiving table, and we don’t expect that to change,” explained Frank Muir, President & CEO, Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). “We anticipate that Idaho® potatoes will remain at the top of shoppers’ lists, regardless of the number of people at their gatherings.
According to a report by Toni Williams for Rural Life in New Zealand, an influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses. Latest figures were estimated at a surplus of 2.6million tonnes in Europe and growing due to the impacts of further lockdowns in parts of Europe.
According to Jim Offner of The Packer publication, marketing to different ethnic and demographic groups in North America requires flexibility and a diverse portfolio of products, marketers say. Jim writes in a recent article in The Packer that packaging — or lack of it — is an example, according to Jessica Peri, retail sales manager with Yerington, Nev.-based onion grower-shipper Peri & Sons Farms. “We have found that most markets that cater to specific demographics purchase mostly bulk and not in bags,” she said. “This is preferred by most ethnic groups.”
Lockdown 2.0 “arrived” in Britain and this brings widespread closure of pubs and restaurants once again. Although the rules differ across the country, with Wales’ firebreak rules coming to an end, Scotland experiencing regional restrictions and England in a full national lockdown. This will inevitably effect the potato industry, but the effect is unlikely to be as dramatic as the first lockdown, according to the AHDB.
Supplying McDonald’s with all their potatoes means a Canterbury grower has been able to avoid the worst effects of a Covid-19-inspired glut of overseas potatoes on the New Zealand market. Canterbury-based Hewson Farms produces around 22,000 tonnes of potatoes every year – 12,000 tonnes of which end up as McDonald’s fries. However, a 2.6 million tonne surplus of the vegetable in Europe – floods of spuds – is causing headaches for New Zealand growers and processors.
The Coronavirus has had a major impact on the global potato industry since its discovery and spread earlier this year, writes Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets magazine. The crisis led to a 20 percent increase in household consumption of table potatoes in April-May in many countries. Trade in potatoes and potato products declined 3,4% to € 13,240 billion for the Northern Hemisphere from August 2019 to July 2020. The crisis has shown many buyers that potatoes are nutritious, versatile and a valuable food.
The outlook is good for high-quality crops of red and yellow potatoes from North Dakota and Minnesota, reports Sandy Lindblad Lee for Produce Business. Optimistic predictions for an excellent crop of consistent volume of Red River Valley potatoes is gratifying news for the multitude of buyers and consumers who look forward to these famous fresh spuds. This forecast is even more welcome following last season’s heavy losses in the Valley’s central and southern growing regions.
Record potato sales continued at retail from July through September 2020, according to a news release issued by Potatoes USA. Total store potato sales are said to have increased by 13.6% in dollar sales and 10.6% in volume sales, compared to the same time frame in 2019. These sales levels are also the highest they have been for the past five years. Frozen potatoes showed the greatest increase compared to a year ago, with a dollar sales increase of 23.9% and a 19.7% increase in volume sales. The only category that declined compared to a year ago is deli-prepared sides.