May 8, 2020
Retail sales of potatoes jump during January-to-March quarter

Foodservice shutdowns haven’t been good to the potato industry, there is no question about that, as nearly 60% of U.S.-grown potatoes go to foodservice.

On the retail side, however, sales of potatoes saw a significant jump during the January-to-March quarter. According to data compiled by IRI for Potatoes USA, year-over-year volume and dollar sales increased 15% and 15.5%, respectively.

Dollar sales for the quarter totaled $3.365 billion. Overall volume was 2.01 billion pounds.

By category, biggest increases were reflective of people stocking up on non-perishable goods as stay-at-home mandates went into place. The two categories that jumped the most were:

  • Dehydrated potatoes, 43.0% increase
  • Canned potatoes, 36.7% increase

Frozen (+21.6%) and refrigerated (+19.1) also saw significant sales bumps.

Potato chips was the highest-grossing category at $1.568 billion, an increase of 9.8% from last year.

Deli-prepared sides was the only category that saw a decrease.

Fresh sales

Consumers also went searching for more fresh potatoes, mostly in the way of 5- and 10-pound bags. Sales of fresh potatoes totaled $867.37 million — an increase of 19.2% — making it the second-highest grossing category behind chips.

Five-pound bags accounted for 49% of the fresh market, followed by 10-pound bags (18%) and 1-to-4-pound bags (11%). In all, bagged potatoes were 85% of the fresh market.

Bulk potatoes were 13% of the market and fetched a price of $1.07 per pound, second only to 1-to-4-pound bags ($1.66 per pound).

In terms of varieties, russets made up 64% of the fresh market, followed by reds at 14%, yellows 12% and whites 7%. Medleys, fingerlings and other specialty potatoes accounted for 5% of the market.

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