In July 2014, the UK Potato Council reported that the fresh potato sector was in volume decline. Recent research for YouGov Reports hints at further potential challenges for the traditional potato market, with younger consumers less likely to go for the humble spud and eating habits changing more generally.
The new potato is king for those in the older age groups, with 76% of over 55s responsible for grocery shopping purchasing this type, compared to just half of 16-24 year olds who say they do the same. Over 55 grocery shoppers are also more likely to say they “try to buy whatever is in season” (32%), compared to just 6% of 16-24s. Over a third (34%) of this older age group buy baby potatoes, against 10% from the youngest group.
While older consumers may have always eaten fresh potato products, younger people have grown up with a choice of processed alternatives. This is reflected by the fact they are 16-24-year-old grocery shoppers are the most likely to buy potato wedges (39%), potato waffles (33%), curly fries (20%) and French fries (31%).
Tom Rees, Research Manager, YouGov Reports said; ‘The potato remains a staple of our diets, however it is clear that young people – who have had exposure to a wider range of cuisines than their parents and grandparents - think of meal basics as including options such as pasta and rice as well as the potato.
The challenge to producers and retailers is drawing younger people towards the potato section. In-store activity such as recipe ideas which are easy to communicate and execute would be one such way of attempting this. The research also indicates that clearer and more informed packaging could help with this in future.’