Fight-back under way for the Great British Potato
By James Garner
BRITISH potatoes are going on the offensive, despite remaining one of shoppers favourites.
It is a regular feature on most shopping lists, finding its way in to over 80% of consumers baskets at least once a month in a market worth £3.2bn, according to British Potato Councils research.
But while consumer penetration might be good, Helen Priestley, director of marketing and communications for the BPC, says potatoes are bought less frequently than before. "Fresh potatoes are in serious decline, while processed potatoes are increasing year on year," she says.
She adds that the BPCs findings are justification for levy payers money being spent on discovering why consumers buy potatoes.
"It should give the organisation the tools it needs to halt the decline in fresh potato consumption and ensure that more processed potatoes are British."
Mrs Priestley fears that if the BPC fails to embrace new marketing techniques, the potatos market share could dwindle, despite consumption currently remaining stable.
Rice and pasta are the most important competing carbohydrates. "But the research shows there is a fair chance of stealing market share from its rivals.
"To do this it is necessary to understand peoples attitude to influence their behaviour. If we can match consumer requirements they will buy and eat more."
We must react to todays shopper, says Mrs Priestley. Consumers want more from food. They demand convenience, health benefits or something special from each serving.
lSainsbury is running a potato of the month promotion, currently focusing on British new potatoes. This gives more on-pack information about the variety, includes recipe cards and focuses on seasonality and origin.
Marcus Hoggarth, fresh produce buyer for the supermarket, explains the strategy: "The BPCs research showed us that potatoes were losing customers, to fresh pasta and rice, who wanted more exciting products. It is a long-term strategy, but I am convinced it is working." *