May 4, 2021After a year-plus of pandemic, potato gains in retail sector start to level off
After 15 months of pandemic-influenced buying habits, year-over-year numbers of potato sales in the retail sector are leveling off.
According to figures compiled by IRI and released by Potatoes USA, March 2021 sales were down by 0.5% in dollars and 3.6% in volume from March 2020, when pandemic restrictions went into place.
While sales of potatoes for the first two months of 2021 remained above the same time period the previous year, March brought the total store potato sales down overall. Sales across the store remained above pre-pandemic levels (January- March 2019) showing consumer demand remains strong for potatoes.
The large majority of the decrease in March 2021 sales came from canned and dehydrated potatoes, 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 compared to 2020. 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 potatoes 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 the majority of pack sizes declined in sales, one through four-pound bags continued to grow in dollars and 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.