Farmers and the wider food supply chain are used to responding to changing consumer requirements. However, it is hard to recall a time when the consumer landscape changed quite as dramatically as over these last three months of lockdown. AHDB has been following these changes closely, so whether considering shopping behaviour or the rise of in-home eating, AHDB has been reporting on the key issues which affect the demand for sectors’ products. Within this article, David Swales, AHDB Head of Strategic Insight, summarises some of the key factors which shape consumer demand.
The National Potato Council held their first ever virtual event this week. There’s been remarkable changes in the food system over the last few months because of COVID-19. That’s led to a lot of adjustments to the potato industry. “The versatility, the commonality and the nutritional benefits of the potato solidified our position with consumers—many of whom cooked their first potatoes at home over the past 90 days,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Despite the hardships that COVID has presented, Richardson is still bullish for the potato industry.
Potato acres across Canada are expected to be down for 2020, due to contract volume cuts in March as the pandemic lockdown hit North America, writes Shel Zolkewich in an article published by Spudsmart magazine. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told Zolkewich in a phone interview. “We thought we would have far too many potatoes in the market – and now, the opposite is happening in many areas.”
Shoppers are racing to get their hands on McCain’s classic Potato Smiles after the nostalgic snack disappeared from Australian supermarket shelves five years ago. Thousands of Australians have been rallying for years to bring back the iconic childhood treat after it was discontinued in 2015. ‘For many Australians, these are something they’ve looked back on fondly as part of their childhood. After years of build-up, it’s heartening to know that they’re meeting expectations,’ McCain Foods marketing manager ANZ Karen Ramsay said.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its latest potato report that retail demand in Ireland remains buoyant, and as restrictions ease further on June 29th and restaurants can re-open, growers are reminded to supply the peeling market where possible. Once again rainfall across Europe in the past week was welcomed. Not everyone has had rain and some areas including Northern Holland and parts of Eastern England remain very dry.
Production and marketing are both in positive places for the Colorado potato industry. Jim Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said June 24 that the 2020 crop “looks really, really good. It has been extremely dry and warmer than normal. But the crop is growing really well.”
Specialist potato grower Scutt Farming was selling 100 per cent of its 152-hectare (375-acre) potato crop to fish and chip shops when lockdown began, forcing the East Yorkshire family business to urgently find a new market. The business’ potatoes found a home as part of Morrisons ‘Wonky’ range. “The Wonky range shows the public is happy to buy potatoes which are not necessarily as visually perfect as the classic pre-packed sample,” says Mr Scutt.
With consumer demand rising for environmentally responsible and sustainable products, Ontario based EarthFresh announced today that the company has updated their packaging with new biobased material. These new mesh packs are all USDA Certified Biobased Products made with CLAF® Biobased Fabric™. The mesh bags are made with renewable raw materials derived from sugarcane. These packages are 96% bio-based and 100% recyclable.
Light conditions in retail stores may contribute to potato greening, says a team of researchers at the University of Tasmania in their recently published study on this subject. In this study, the research team says they aimed to develop a “potato tuber greening risk rating model” for retail stores based on light quality and intensity parameters. Greening risk, which varied between stores, was found to be related to light intensity level, and partially explained potato stock loss in stores.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) reports in its weekly potato update that demand at retail level remains strong, given that the majority of people are still working from home. Recently released figures show potato area similar to 2020. If yields take a hit from the drought this will leave production significantly below 2019. The UK and Europe have gotten some rainfall in the past week. However, like in Ireland there is considerable variation on amounts in different areas.
EarthFresh has been making waves in the supplier world since its inception in 1963. Its organic varieties have helped catapult it to a leading position in the organic potato market in North America. To learn more about this dynamic company, Anne Allen of AndNowUKnow spoke with Dan Martin, Chief Operating Officer.
Viewpoint: 70% of consumers say ‘natural’ food is healthier, but there’s no science behind the marketing hype
When you hear the word “natural,” what thoughts or images come to mind? If you think of flowers, puppies, fresh baked bread, or other wholesome ideas, you’re not alone, writes Jack Bobo on the Gernetic Literacy Project. Products that were once only found in “health food stores” or specialty stores like Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers are now available in traditional grocery and convenience stores.
In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 upturned lives and livelihoods in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. One of the responses we’ve seen as people have adjusted and then readjusted to a new normal is a change in consumer behaviours.
Retail potato sales soar, increasing 10.4% in dollar sales and 9.3% in volume sales between July 1, 2019 and May 19, 2020, according to IRI. All potato categories across the retail store, except deli-prepared sides, increased in dollar and volume sales, according to a report by Potatoes USA. Fresh, frozen, dehydrated, and canned potatoes saw double-digit increases in both dollar[Read More…]
Jordan Okumura of AndNowUKnow reports that “the awesome potato has been a hotter category than usual as of late, with demand spiking through the spring months. As we get our foothold in June, the potato market is finding some stability for Eagle Eye Produce, though the consumer’s passion for the produce item is staying strong.”
With the Farmers to Families Food Box Program underway across the country, companies are busy packing and sending fresh produce to food banks. Chris Koger of The Packer provides a round-up of recent COVID-19-related news. As far as potatoes are concerned, Koger writes that Potatoes USA is connecting with industry members through a new video series, Keeping It Current, to explain what the organization has been doing during the pandemic.
Signs are showing that frozen fry demand is improving quicker than the industry had anticipated, according to a May 27 report by North American Potato Market News. Restaurant chain sales in the U.S. improved five consecutive weeks from early April to mid-May, although were still down 21%, year-over-year in the week ending May 17.
Consumers have been urged to seek out British potatoes on supermarket shelves to help East Anglia’s growers shift the huge surplus generated by the loss of lockdown demand from chip shops and restaurants. The coronavirus pandemic left thousands of tonnes of potatoes stranded in stores as the food service sector closed down. Some have been redirected to retailers, others have been sold directly from farm shops and delivery schemes, or sold off as animal feed.
Wisconsin spuds had a shaky start to the COVID-19 pandemic, but high consumer demand has put potatoes in a good spot, says the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The retail demand increased tremendously with the advent of COVID,” Executive Director Tamas Houlihan said. “Grocery store sales were through the roof, people were stocking up, and they weren’t buying the usual 5 and 10 pound bags. They were buying as much as they could.”
Australian potato farmers outraged as $1billion COVID-19 cash splash is given to European colleagues
Australian potato farmers are outraged to discover a $1billion COVID-19 assistance package given to European growers could result in a flood of French fries into the market from overseas. An industry representative body for vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, said an influx of about 2.6million tonnes of excess potatoes into Australia would lock farmers out of the fast-food industry. The two biggest potato processors, McCain Food and Simplot, have been working with AUSVEG alongside other companies to address the issue
The coronavirus has disrupted the global potato market like no other single event before it, but there are some signs things settling at least a new normal, according to Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets. World Potato Markets has just published its annual review of production, prices and trade. Potato News Today readers can enjoy a special purchase rate.
Statistics New Zealand said today that prices rose 18 per cent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo – an all-time high. “Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said.
As a staple food with a long shelf life, potatoes are currently among the favourites on consumers’ shopping lists. The potato market in Germany and throughout Europe is benefiting from this. On the other hand, sales in the catering trade have slumped sharply due to the closure – especially processed potato products are suffering as a result. Valentin Beckmann, from Maurer Parat LLC, in Germany answered questions about the potato market.
With COVID-19 closures in place all across the United States, and even the world, restaurant demand for potatoes has fallen. According to Frank Muir, CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, 60% of Idaho potatoes go to restaurants. “We’re trying to move crops in unprecedented times,” Muir said. “Prices were strong but they’ve been dipping. We can’t replace 60% of the food service loss.”
Potato and groundnut consumption in India has crashed because bars, pubs and restaurants are shut — french fries and peanuts, standard munchies with drinks, and ubiquitous street snacks alu tikki and samosas, are not being sold, and prices of their ingredients are falling. Potato prices have plunged up to 12% in the past month. Hotels, restaurants and bars normally buy 70% of french fries sold in the country, but the lockdown has badly hit sales, said Haresh Karamchandani, CEO, HyFun Foods, which makes frozen potato-based snacks including burger patties and wedges.