Consumer trends and their impact on potatoes

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Market Intelligence Department at AHDB conducted their first potatoes area estimate webinar, which also included short presentations on a variety of other topics. This article provides a brief update on consumer trends and how they impact the potatoes industry and is based on some of the content covered by the webinar.

Three key trends which are impacting on the potatoes category are: convenience, health and changes to the types of meal that we choose to eat. Below is a brief summary of these trends.

Convenience

Convenience is not a new trend and it is one that affects all grocery categories, but it has continued to be significant for potatoes and potato products. It is important to think of convenience as a combination of time, ease and practicality rather than speed alone.

The time that consumers are willing to spend preparing and cooking a meal has been decreasing and since 1980 has halved from one hour down to 30 minutes according to Kantar Worldpanel Usage data. This has implications for the types of meals that can be prepared within that time constraint. Relating this to potatoes, the requirement to peel and chop can increase preparation time which may be off-putting to some consumers. On the other hand, some potato meals such as baked potatoes, require very minimal effort and this could perhaps be a reason why sales of fresh baked potatoes have remained relatively steady over the past few years whilst sales of maincrop varieties have been in decline (Kantar Worldpanel).


Health


Another key consumer trend is health, and it is increasingly important in the consumer decision making process. Potatoes have good nutritional value and AHDB’s marketing teams continually work to promote this to consumers.

Chart of agreement that potatoes are healthy, data from AHDB/YouGov's consumer tracker

As part of our work, we track consumer attitudes toward potatoes through a six monthly survey conducted by YouGov. In the most recent results of this survey, 69% of those asked agreed with the statement ‘potatoes are healthy’ when asked directly, suggesting in terms of health potatoes are well perceived by the consumers.
The consumer insight team at AHDB has released a Consumer Focus report on health which contains more information and can be accessed here.


Meal types


The increasing popularity of dish based cuisines including other cuisines such as Italian and oriental (eg lasagne, shepherd’s pie) compared to traditional meat focused meals (eg a roast dinner) is a challenge for potatoes. This is because dishes from other cuisines are often based around a different carbohydrate such as pasta or rice rather than potatoes which have been the focus of many traditional British meals. It is therefore important that consumers continue to be reminded of the versatility of potatoes and how they can fit with a variety of dishes.
To view the full presentations and listen to the webinar, click here.