U.S. potato sales drop after a year of unparalleled growth
While sales of potatoes for the first two months of 2021 remained up year-on-year, March brought the total store sales down overall. Dollar sales fell by 0.5 percent, while volume sales declined by 3.6 percent though consumer demand remains strong for potatoes.
Sales of the vegetable between January and March of this year have caught up to the changed buying habits that the pandemic brought about.
March 2020 was an unprecedented time for sales in grocery stores as panic buying began a yearlong streak of record-high sales in dollars and volume.
"It is no surprise that sales in March of 2021 could not keep up with the buying patterns that occurred in that crazy month a year ago," Potatoes USA said.
The large majority of the decrease in March 2021 sales came from canned and dehydrated options, both of which were "wiped clean from the shelves" last March.
Frozen and refrigerated potatoes, along with deli-prepared sides, were the three categories to grow in both dollar and volume sales year-on-year.
Refrigerated potatoes saw the largest percentage increase, rising by 5.3% in dollars and 2.5% in volume.
Last March, deli-prepared sides was the only category to decline in sales due to the closure of many of these spaces. The increase this year shows the recovery of this department.
Fresh potato sales fell by 3.5% in dollars and 5.1% in volume compared to the previous year. The decline in sales is attributed to russet, red, white, and purple potatoes.
Yellow, petite, medley, and fingerling varieties continued to grow in dollar and volume sales for the entire quarter, including March. The most significant percentage increase was for medley potatoes, growing by 21.5% in dollars and 27% in volume.
"While a lot has changed over the last year, sales have stabilized in a more predictable way for potatoes. Dollar and volume sales remain higher than before panic buying, showing consumer demand for potatoes at home is still strong."