U.K. potato consumption peels off

July 03 , 2014

Sales of potatoes have fallen by 8% in Britain as consumers make alternative food choices that often snub the nation’s traditional staple. potatoes_74211211 small

British industry body Potato Council has published findings of recent research that details the latest potato trends among shoppers in the U.K., and has drawn up an action plan to shake consumers out of a state of inertia when it comes to buying potatoes.

The Kantar WorldPanel findings show an interesting point that despite the sales slump, shoppers are not ‘consciously’ turning their backs on the potato because 90% of those who are buying 20% fewer potatoes thought they were actually buying the same amount or more, according to a release.

The council’s head of marketing and corporate affairs, Caroline Evans, said this meant there wasn’t an active rejection of the tuber.

“An unconscious decision not to purchase presents both opportunities and challenges for the industry when it comes to fighting back against the volume of decline. It means there is no specific issue we need to address, for example health or price,” Evans said in the release.

“Instead the focus is on ensuring that potatoes are front-of-mind for shoppers, particularly in store.”

The organization has put together a strategy to tackle the decline in potato sales, focusing on factors including promoting the convenience of easy-to-cook potato recipes and reminding shoppers of product’s nutritional benefits.

The action plan also aims to re-introduce the root vegetable more often in the weekly repertoire of home cooking and make better use of in-store ‘shopper signposting’ to deliberately direct customers to potatoes by consciously interrupting the shopping experience.

Decline in sales is not necessarily about price

Although potato prices have increased by more than a third at the retail level in the last year, the research shows shoppers are not particularly affected by the price rise.

Instead, more people are choosing alternative carbohydrate foods like rice. Convenience is also an important factor with consumers opting for ‘easy-to-cook and prepare’ food.

“Potatoes are a staple food and price tends to be less of a concern for shoppers. That said, everyone is looking for good value for money. We need to make sure we position potatoes as an easy choice which can be a good value base for meals,” Evans added.

“The research demonstrates just how essential it is to shake consumers out of a state of inertia when it comes to buying potatoes. They need inspiration and guidance, both at the fixture and at home, in the form of recipe ideas and advice on how to prepare quick and easy potato meals that are packed full of goodness and can be enjoyed by the whole family.

“Clearly it is more important than ever that industry works together to put out positive, consistent messages about potatoes and put a stop to the decline in consumption.”

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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