Retail insights 'key to potato sales'

Understanding what motivates consumers is the key to remaining competitive and sustaining long-term demand for potatoes.

This was the main message in Potatoes: A Fresh Outlook, a report by the Potato Council published this month.

The study, which aims to help the fresh potato sector remain competitive, found that 80 per cent of shoppers wanted more information on varieties and usage.

It also revealed that potato shoppers care more about value than price - demonstrating that focusing on differentiation and "lifting" potatoes out of commodity status is essential to sustaining long-term demand.

The Potato Council's head of marketing and corporate affairs Caroline Evans said: "Consumers drive the market and knowledge of their shopping habits and what motivates them is what will keep the industry competitive and keep it in front of its rival carbohydrates."

"This is a challenge for the whole supply chain, not just the retailer, if we are to ensure we have the right products on offer, packaged and displayed in the right way and with the right messages. That's what we hope to achieve by disseminating this detailed consumer insight."

She added that the industry needed to "show off" the breadth of product and use this to drive differentiation.

The 52-page report also revealed that provenance and variety can be used to encourage shoppers to trade up and that consumers need more ideas on cooking potatoes.

The industry, it said, needed to focus more on shoppers' retail experience, ensuring that they get the right kind of information at the potato "fixture".

Kent Potato Company Pack promotion in Tesco stores in Kent

Last year, Kent Potato Company launched a series of potato packs specifically for Tesco stores in Kent. The packs focused both on provenance and variety and included Kent-grown, new-season Desiree and King Edward varieties.

Kent Potato Company sales and marketing manager Eddie Knowles said: "We carried out extensive customer surveys and our customers came back to us asking which potatoes were best for mashing, boiling, chipping etc."

"This interest comes from food programmes - consumers are becoming more aware of what you can do with potatoes."

Kent Potato Company was formed last year after the purchase by the Jersey Royal Company (JRC) of St Nicholas Court Farms. The regional brand was formed because JRC identified that shoppers wanted products with a local identity.

Knowles said: "Support for local has just grown and grown."

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