U.S. potato sales

The retail sales value of potatoes increased by 2.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, to $11.6 billion. Volume fell by 1.9 percent, to 6.9 billion pounds, based on figures from IRI, formerly Information Resources Inc.

U.S. retail sales of potatoes rose in dollar value in 2018 even as volume fell, Potatoes USA reported.

Retail sales value increased by 2.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, to $11.6 billion. Volume fell by 1.9 percent, to 6.9 billion pounds, based on figures from IRI, formerly Information Resources Inc. The second quarter’s 4.5 percent drop in volume dragged the full-year result.

Demand is stronger than it was a few years ago, Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern said.

“We have seen some slight declines for 2018, but prior to the last three years, it was declining regularly, every year,” he said. “Really now it has leveled out, and we are at a point now where declines are not going to be as steep as they were in the past.”

Toaspern said the earlier era of steeper year-to-year reductions in retail demand often reflected consumers eating more meals in restaurants rather than at home, where unit volumes purchased are typically higher.

“That is still going on, but there is more of a transition back to eating at least some meals at home,” he said. “And the industry has done a good job by providing a lot of convenience items” for home use.

Value increases by category included 5.3 percent for refrigerated products, 4.1 percent for frozen and 1.8 percent for fresh potatoes, the Potatoes USA report said.

Volume declines were led by fresh potatoes — down 4.5 percent, including a 7.7 percent drop in russets. But russet dollar value increased by 0.5 percent from 2017.

Frozen potato products saw gains in volume and total sales from 2017. Volume increased by 3.3 percent, dollar value by 4.1 percent.

field reporter, SW Idaho and SE Oregon

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