Domestic Potato Trends

  • Post category:January 2022

Americans LOVE Potatoes!

Potatoes are still America’s favorite vegetable, U.S. food spending is equally split between meals eaten at home versus away from home, and frozen potato foodservice sales are slowly inching back to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

Those were some of the findings of a USDA Food Expenditure Series – Food Sales report shared with Potatoes USA members during a Jan. 20 Fresh Working Group quarterly meeting.

Between 2003 and 2019 an increasing percentage of meals were consumed in out-of-home settings. Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, 53% of meals were purchased and eaten outside of family dwellings. The trend abruptly reversed at the onset of the pandemic, with only 45% of meals in 2020 purchased outside of the home.

Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern said the pre-pandemic trend line is showing signs of resumption, with 2021 data suggesting an equal split of in-home and away-from-home (restaurant or cafeteria) dining.

“Movement was showing, consistently and over time, where spending away from home was eclipsing at-home food spending,” Toaspern said. “What’s amazing is how quickly after 2020 we’re getting back to pre-pandemic food spending and consumption habits.”

Potato Love Affair

Meeting organizers also briefed attendees about a research study commissioned by Potatoes USA. Research findings reaffirmed what we knew from previous data analysis — potatoes are America’s favorite …

  • … vegetable
  • … takeout dish
  • … side dish

Culinary Trends

Potatoes USA Fresh Working Group participants also learned of the following shopping, health and culinary trends:

  1. At-home cooking. Though consumers are increasingly dining out with friends or family, they haven’t abandoned some of the joys of cooking discovered during early pandemic lockdown or quarantine.
  2. Return to convenience. As activities, work or family obligations and other demands on our time find their way back into routines, time-saving meal solutions will take on even greater importance.
  3. Fusion to the extreme mixing culinary elements of different cultures in new and interesting ways.
  4. Online shopping including for fresh produce — both “click ‘n’ collect” curbside pickup or delivery using Instacart or a different service.
  5. Sustainability. More and more consumers want to be associated with brands that demonstrate concern for the environment and are choosing brands based on fair trade or other responsible growing &/or sourcing practices.
  6. Healthy eating with less emphasis on weight loss and more emphasis on general overall health and well-being.

RPE with its innovation/product development culture, sustainability and eCommerce initiatives and professional chef culinary partnerships is well-positioned to capitalize on each of these trends

Potato Market Update

Russet potato demand remains very strong on consumer packs throughout the country. Demand for larger-sized potatoes seems to be slowing with the decrease in the foodservice industry. Shippers feel very comfortable with their remaining inventories apart from the Northwest where decreasing supplies are beginning to drive price upward. Overall, pricing will rise as we enter into the spring and summer seasons. 

Texas growers will start planting red potatoes soon. Growers in Florida will start shipping red potatoes in mid-February.

Growers in Wisconsin are officially done shipping storage crop yellow potatoes. Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho and Canada growers appear to have adequate supply. The industry continues to witness strong demand for yellow potatoes. Pricing remains very active and volatile.

Storage crop white potatoes remain in the northeast, with the new crop running behind in Florida due to the extremely wet fall. New crop will not be available in Florida until early March. Pricing remains very steady.

Storage crop fingerling potatoes remain available in Colorado, Idaho, Washington and New York.  New crop fingerlings will soon be available from growers in Florida and California. Pricing remains very steady.

Onion Market Update

The overall onion market remains firm, with a tight red and yellow onion supply. Red onions, especially the larger sizes, continue to be limited across the country. Prices are reflecting the limited supplies.

Growers in Mexico will have a new crop of onions available this week, with more supplies coming into the pipeline over the next few weeks. The yellow onion market may soften if Mexico has good supplies.

New crop onions from growers in California are on track for early spring. The Imperial Valley is expected to have good supplies on reds and yellows by mid to late April.