Strong sales of potatoes in the United States in the 2020-2021 marketing year

The marketing year that ended in June 2021 is unlike any other year the US potato industry has seen. With the ebb and flow of pandemic restrictions from June 2020 to July 2021, foodservice sales fluctuated while retail purchases remained extremely strong throughout the year.

To help the industry understand the demand for domestically produced potatoes and better understand domestic sales, Potatoes USA conducts an annual sales and use study. This study uses retail data from IRI, estimated foodservice sales from Technomics, and import and export data to provide additional clarity on domestically produced potatoes.

The results showed an overall decrease in the use of potatoes in the United States for the marketing year from July 2020 to June 2021. To be more specific, there was a decrease of 6% in the equivalent volume by weight. costs.

This decrease is attributable to an 8% drop in foodservice sales and leveling retail sales from peak panic buying at the end of the previous marketing year. This year’s tight supply of US potatoes, especially frozen products, was offset by a 12% increase in total imports.

Despite uncertainties in international markets and extreme international shipping problems, US potato exports increased 4% for the marketing year. The rebound in exports was led by a 9% increase in fresh potatoes, a 10% increase in potato chips and a 2% increase in frozen exports, which accounted for 51% of the total. The only product to decline was dehydrated potato, down 4%.

Forty percent of potatoes grown in the United States were used for frozen processing, followed by 25% fresh processing, 23% potato processing, and 7% dehydrated processing. Dehydrated potato production suffered from a tight supply of raw materials and serious labor problems in factories.

Looking at domestic potato sales, made up of domestically produced potatoes and imports, retail sales are up from three and five years ago, but declines in food service were too important to overcome. Over the past 20 years, the trend has been for more and more sales to go through restaurants than retail.

This trend has reversed over the past two years, but catering is expected to start to take up a growing share, but not right away.

Total retail sales fell by less than 1%, mainly due to a 2% drop in fresh potatoes and French fries, as spring 2021 sales failed to hit sales extremes during panic buying in spring 2020, sales of frozen products, up 5%, and sales of refrigerated products, up 5%.

Foodservice saw an 8% drop in total sales, but sales of frozen potatoes fell only 4% as the fast food industry was able to recover the fastest, consumers continuing to order take out fries. Sales of fresh potatoes fell 11% as full-service restaurants suffered greatly from restrictions and now labor shortages.

Potato chip sales were down 19% as the foodservice beyond saw the biggest drop overall and bulk potato chips in large bags were replaced with single serve bags, which contain less. volume.

As the markets settle into a new normal, it is very important to remember that the demand for potatoes remains strong and potatoes are the # 1 vegetable in retail, the top side dish in restaurants and the favorite vegetable of Americans.

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