The British potato industry is facing a crisis due to COVID-19, the Ukraine conflict, inflation, and weather issues, leading to a significant drop in production. In response, potato suppliers like Wolds Produce are negotiating longer, more flexible contracts with manufacturers. Despite some support from crisp manufacturers, the sector struggles with reduced seed production and the lowest recorded crop yields, signaling potential price increases and industry consolidation ahead.
AKP Group, a leading UK potato supply chain specialist, has acquired Wolds Produce, enhancing its operations in the crisping, chipping, and seed potato sectors. This strategic move aims to consolidate expertise, foster innovation, and build a robust supply chain to navigate the challenges of reduced grower numbers, rising costs, and climate volatility. The partnership promises uninterrupted service and growth opportunities for the UK potato industry, with both companies maintaining their commitment to quality and efficiency.
The Little Potato Company, North America’s leading Creamer potato company, has launched the “A Little Holiday Happiness Is…” campaign, featuring online and POS sweepstakes running until January. Angela Santiago, CEO, emphasizes the campaign’s aim to bring joy and ease to families during the festive season. Amid rising food prices, the company offers a chance to win $1,000 in groceries, with 30 winners across the U.S. and Canada. Their Little Potatoes, which are pre-washed and require no peeling or cutting, promise convenience and deliciousness for holiday meals.
Fresh potatoes have emerged as a consistent sales force in the U.S. produce sector, offering retailers vast opportunities for increased customer interaction. Data reveals that effective merchandising significantly boosts potato sales. With the highest household penetration among vegetables, purchased on average 10 times annually, potatoes enhance sales for other items too. Their contribution to the produce department ensures overall store success, making them a valuable asset for retailers.
The 2023-24 season forecasts a robust Idaho potato crop, promising affordability and heightened promotional prospects for retailers. With a 12% increase in planted acres from the previous year, Idaho leads the U.S. in potato production growth. Despite price drops, the quality remains high, attributed to ideal weather conditions. Ross Johnson of the Idaho Potato Commission anticipates enhanced promotional opportunities, emphasizing the value potatoes present to consumers, especially in the upcoming economic climate.
Dutch retailer PLUS is embarking on a shift towards organic potatoes in their fresh produce section. They’ve rolled out unprocessed organic potatoes in one-kilogram bags, interestingly priced the same as their non-organic counterparts. To ensure fairness, PLUS has committed to compensating farmers for the price difference. This initiative is in line with the Dutch government’s goal of achieving 15% organic farming land by 2030.
South African potato prices have surged, with a 10kg bag now costing R121 (6.25 euros), a 136% increase from last year, reports Carolize Jansen of FreshPlaza. Supply volumes have dropped by 46%. Other produce like bananas and pumpkins also face price hikes. Challenges such as water shortages and electricity issues plague farmers, raising concerns about food security and affordability in the region.
‘Finding a needle in a potato sack’: Potato farmers prioritize inspection systems to ensure food safety
Farmers in North America, especially from Prince Edward Island (PEI), are prioritizing potato safety due to past incidents of metal contaminants in produce. In response, Fortress Technology introduced the Phantom metal detection system, designed to handle the unique challenges posed by potatoes. This system ensures high standards in the potato supply chain, emphasizing shared responsibility in food safety and the importance of upstream inspection to protect brands and guarantee consumer-safe products.
In 2022, the Northwestern U.S. witnessed a surge in potato sales, according to a report by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NAAS). Idaho’s sales rose by 35% to $1.41 billion, while Oregon and Washington saw increases of 12% and 33%, respectively. Although Idaho and Oregon’s potato production decreased by 9% and 2%, Washington’s grew by 4%. Collectively, these states contributed 61% to U.S. potato production. However, overall potato processing across eight states dipped by 1%.
The National Potato Council’s ‘Spud Nation Report’, published earlier this year, provides a detailed overview of the US potato industry. It highlights a rising demand for potatoes, with sales reaching $4.8 billion in 2022. The report discusses production trends, export-import dynamics, changing consumer preferences towards organic and non-GMO potatoes, sustainability efforts, technological advancements in food safety, marketing strategies, policy implications, labor challenges, and research initiatives.
At the 2023 Potato Business Summit earlier this year, Kim Breshears of Potatoes USA highlighted the enduring popularity of potatoes in America. Studies show potatoes as the top vegetable for five consecutive years. While 40% of the U.S. potato crop goes to retail and food service each, 20% is exported. Despite a brief pandemic-induced dip, food service sales are rebounding, indicating a robust future for the potato industry. The data presented by Kim Breshears underscores the unwavering popularity of potatoes in the U.S. market.
Sterman Masser Potato Farms will present its Side Delights Petite potatoes at the NEPC Expo in Boston from August 21-22, 2023. These U.S. No.1 grade potatoes come in various colors and innovative packaging. Additionally, Masser introduces its sustainable Bioflex packaging, which decomposes in modern landfills. Lela Reichart, the Executive Director of Marketing, emphasizes Masser’s commitment to quality and sustainability, inviting attendees to experience their innovations at Booth #425.
U.S. potatoes prove resilient: Retail dollar sales hit $16.9 billion for the 52-week period 2022-2023
U.S. retail potato sales soared 16.8% from July 2022 to June 2023, reaching a five-year high of $16.9 billion. Despite a 19.9% price increase, potatoes remained affordable at $2.36/pound. All potato categories, including frozen, canned, and fresh, saw growth in dollar sales. Russet potatoes led the fresh category with a 23.5% sales increase, while larger pack sizes faced declines.
Tasmanian supermarkets are once again fully stocked with frozen chips [fries], bringing an end to a potato shortage that left chip bowls empty across the country between Christmas last year and just a few weeks ago, as Pulse Hobart reports. The local spud harvest is being fed through production plants owned by Simplot and McCain, refilling the freezers at supermarkets and takeaway shops.
Mitolo Family Farms, Australia’s potato and onion category leader, has partnered with Australian supermarket chain Coles, as well as global innovators in sustainable packaging solutions Detpak, to create what is believed to be Australia’s first curbside recyclable paper bag for fresh potatoes. The new Gourmandine paper packaging extends on previous sustainability steps taken by Mitolo Family Farms, as the company previously cut its use of plastic packaging in 2022.
Potato retail sales from January-March 2023 increased by 16% in dollar terms in the U.S., despite a 4.4% volume decrease. According to Potatoes USA, frozen potatoes led sales growth, up by 41.9%, followed by instant and fresh potatoes. However, volume sales for instant and refrigerated potatoes declined significantly. All fresh potato types except white, fingerling, and purple saw increased dollar sales. The average price per pound for fresh potatoes rose 18.7%. Bagged potatoes less than two pounds were the only category to see both dollar and volume growth.
Potato retail sales increased in dollar sales by 14.4% but decreased in volume sales by -1.5% from January – December 2022 compared to 2021. Despite a slight decrease in volume sales, volume sales remain 3.7% above pre-pandemic levels, says Potatoes USA in a news update. All categories of potatoes increased in dollar sales, with four potato categories rising by double digits. In addition to increasing dollar sales, refrigerated and canned increased volume sales by 0.7% and 2.8%, respectively. Fresh potato dollar sales were up for all types except purple potatoes.
Potato retail sales increased in dollar sales by 17.2% but decreased in volume sales by -1.3% from October – December 2022 compared to the same timeframe a year ago. Despite a slight decrease in volume sales, volume sales remain above pre-pandemic levels, according to a report by Potatoes USA. All categories of potatoes increased in dollar sales, with the most significant occurring for frozen potatoes by 33.1%, followed by fresh potato sales at 20% and instant potatoes at 14.5%.
The top product quality challenge facing fresh-cut potato processors is enzymatic browning and a common browning preventative – sulfites – can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Using sulfites can also trigger FDA-mandated labeling. Now there’s a sulfite-free fix by Syracuse based Hennessy Food.
With global events during the past few years upending longtime consumer shopping behavior, are potato sales trends anywhere close to a stable new normal? According to a news report by The Produce News, questions like this have led the Idaho Potato Commission to invest heavily in delivering actionable data, teaming up with Category Partners to produce information that is a proven asset to IPC’s team in the field, said Ross Johnson, IPC vice president of retail and international.
The hot chip shortage has now hit close to home [in Australia], with the internet divided over a recent photo of an empty Coles fridge, writes Joanne Tran in a news story published by The Daily Telegraph. In a now-viral Reddit post, a user shared a snap of the frozen chips section at their local Coles, and shockingly, it was completely empty.
Let’s start the new year off talking about one of the sometimes-unsung superstars of the produce department: ‘the potato’, writes Brian Dey in this news story published by The Packer. Potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, not to mention super tasty when prepared a multitude of ways. They’re great as a main course, side dish or snack. Brian Dey suggests three short tips on how retailers can maximize their potato sales and profits.
Farmers have been left outraged as Sainsbury’s, among other UK supermarkets, has discounted the price of potatoes in the run up to Christmas, according to a report by Grocery Gazette. As a result of the price drops, farmers and consumers on Twitter are fearing this will reduce the value of vegetables, while growers deal with added inflationary pressures, according to reporting by Farming Guardian.
Potatoes USA: Despite slight decrease in volume, potato retail sales increased above pre-pandemic levels in dollar sales
Potato retail sales increased in dollar sales by 17.8% but decreased in volume sales by 2.1% from July – September 2022 compared to the same timeframe a year ago, according to a news release issued by Potatoes USA today. The industry body says despite a small decrease in volume sales, volume sales remain above pre-pandemic levels. Over the last five years, the average consumer price per pound of potatoes has increased each year.