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Consumer Research


Brits opt for the posh potato

Brits opt for the posh potato

Mashed, roasted, baked or simply boiled, the potato has always held a special place at the heart of the British diet. 




And while potatoes have seen floundering volume sales, due to being left out of the '5 a day' campaign and having a reputation for being the 'white bread' of fruit and veg, all is not lost for the humble potato.




Indeed, latest research from Mintel shows that the market value has grown by 20 per cent since 2001, with Brits increasingly opting for more up-market, premium varieties.




Indeed, this age old British favourite clearly scrubs up well, with shoppers forking out just shy of £1.5 billion on spuds last year alone.




One sector that seems to be out of synch with the rest of the market is dehydrated potato, such as Smash.




First introduced commercially in the 1950s, dehydrated potato has long since been a favourite amongst campers and girl guides alike.




And while all other potato varieties have seen volumes fall or at most, remain static over the last few years, volume sales of dehydrated potato have grown by an impressive 22 per cent since 2004.




Flying in the face of trends towards buying unprocessed, fresh food and cooking from scratch, Britain munched its way through no less than 13,000 tonnes of dehydrated potato last year alone, up from 11,000 in 2004.




Despite this growth the market does still have a long way to go to reach the dizzy heights of fresh pre-packed potatoes - the largest sector, where volume sales now stand just over 1.4 million tonnes a year.

Senior market analyst at Mintel, Julie Sloan, said, "Although many of us are moving towards premium products, convenience is still a key trend and dehydrated potato is perfectly placed to take full advantage of this.




“The strength of the Smash brand and the fact that they continue to launch new varieties has also helped boost popularity"




When it comes to value sales, fresh potatoes still account for the biggest segment of this market, at almost 60 per cent (£855 million), while frozen take just a third (33 per cent). 




The remainder of the market is made up of chilled convenience (4 per cent), dehydrated (2 per cent), fresh prepared (1 per cent) and canned (1 per cent).




When compared to other carbs, fresh potatoes are well ahead of the competition, with sales over eight times that of dry pasta (£105 million) and more than three times that of rice (£264 million).




Julie Sloan, added, "People are becoming increasingly aware of food miles, seasonal produce and support for local farmers and Mintel believes that this trend offers the fresh potato sector the means to resume its fashionable status.

“With potatoes on our doorstep there is little doubt that more modern carbohydrate alternatives, such as rice and pasta, cannot compete with the clear conscience shopping of buying home grown potatoes.”


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