Recent consumer potato consumption trends point to significant growth opportunities for the U.S. potato industry, according to new research unveiled at Potato Expo 2013.
The research, conducted by Datassential, a leading food industry market research firm, and sponsored by Bayer CropScience, shows that nearly half (43 percent) of consumers surveyed report they increased their potato consumption last year.
Forty-six percent report eating potatoes several times per week at home or away from home, with 14 percent eating potatoes daily or more than once a day.
These and other insights were released by Datassential director Maeve Webster. Late last year, the firm fielded proprietary research into trends impacting potato consumption on behalf of the National Potato Council (NPC) and Bayer CropScience.
Bayer CropScience is teaming up with the council to provide tools and support that will help potato growers and others within the industry improve their business by understanding and connecting with key stakeholders, such as consumers and food-industry operators.
According to the research, consumers most often eat fries (57 percent), followed by mashed potatoes (42 percent) and baked potatoes (37 percent). In the future, consumers expect to order more baked potatoes when dining out (33 percent), followed by orders of fries, sweet potato fries, and oven roasted/baked sweet potatoes, all at 30 percent.
“It’s clear that consumers like potatoes; however, to a large degree, potatoes have been left behind in all the innovation in the food-service industry,” Webster says. “Potatoes can work well in a variety of ethnic dishes, and their popularity with consumers and potential profit margins should make them extremely appealing to operators.
“This research and other trends we’ve been tracking indicate a significant opportunity for potato growers and processors to help reignite the industry’s passion for potatoes by working more closely with operators to create consumer demand,” she adds.
“We believe it is our responsibility to agriculture and our communities to help growers, both in and out of the field,” says Rob Schrick, strategic business management lead with Bayer CropScience. “That’s why we teamed with the Potato Council to help growers gain key insights into their customers through new research.”
In restaurants, consumers would like to see potatoes more often as a side plated with an entrée (65 percent). Other areas for growth on the menu include as a main ingredient in appetizers (46 percent), as an àla carte side (44 percent), or as an ingredient in beef entrees and in breakfast entrees, both at 43 percent.
Research also shows opportunities to increase consumption by using potato descriptors to pique consumer interest, with consumers indicating a strong preference (60 percent) for the term “locally sourced.”
Foodservice operators indicated the potato items most likely to be added to menus include sweet potato fries (17 percent), baked sweet potatoes (16 percent), and mashed sweet potatoes (15 percent).
Items already offered that are most likely to have an increased presence on menus were oven baked/roasted potatoes (36 percent), baked potatoes (33 percent), and regular fries (30 percent).
Webster’s presentation at Potato Expo 2013, the largest annual gathering of the U.S. potato industry, followed another Bayer CropScience–sponsored event: social media training for the potato industry and a panel discussion by growers who use social media to enhance relationships and drive sales.
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