June 2021 Highlights
Hello everyone! Welcome to today’s episode of Potato-cast. A Potatoes USA podcast, full of all of your favorite potato industry content.
I’m Natalia Cervantes, Potatoes USA Conversation Architect, and your host.
It is hard to believe that it’s already July. Time has been flying! But time has not slowed down potato consumption.
In today’s episode, I will cover the upcoming Potatoes USA summer meeting, foodservice and retail updates, potatoes in the media, recipe innovation, how U.S. potatoes are doing in Japan and South Korea and upcoming potato holidays.
So let’s get into it!
It’s a busy time of year for Potatoes USA staff as the team closes out the last marketing year and finalizes plans and begins implementation of the new programs, while also getting ready for Summer Meeting in Louisville Kentucky in the first week of August. This will be the first in-person Board meeting in over a year!
Summer meeting marks the first set of formal meetings with the newly elected committee members. Over the course of 3 days, Board members will be presented with the results from the previous fiscal year and the strategic and tactical plans for the coming year. Every program has new and exciting tactics that they are eager to share with the board.
A friendly reminder that nominations for new Potatoes USA Board Members for the 2022-2025 term are still open. If you or someone you know is interested in being considered please contact your state program manager or Carrie Connelly, Potatoes USA Executive Administrator and Director of HR by sending her an email at Carrie (C-A-R-R-I-E) @potatoesusa.com.
Speaking of in-person meetings, the foodservice team packed their bags and hit the road for the first live event since the start of the pandemic. Where did they go you might wonder? All the way to Providence Rhode Island for the International Corporate Chefs Association (ICCA) annual summit. Every year at ICCA corporate chefs from the nation’s top 200 largest restaurant chains and multi-unit operations, trade associations, and other foodservice industry suppliers gather together to discuss the latest foodservice industry trends and insights that will help improve operations and future menu development.
Being one of the first in-person events for the foodservice industry, discussions circled around the challenges operators faced in 2020 as well as their current concerns. Some of the topics at the summit included: consumer demand, staff shortages, the return of in-person dining and off-premise expansion. The good news is that the challenges presented gave the Potatoes USA foodservice team plenty of ideas on how to help address these roadblocks and better position potatoes as a solution.
While foodservice was learning about opportunities for potatoes, on the opposite coast, Kayla Dome, traveled to Seattle for the Washington Potato and Onion Association Annual Convention. Kayla presented to attendees on retail trends noting that retail sales of frozen potatoes continue to increase despite panic buying ending and restaurants being more accessible. Although the majority of attendees were aware of the increase already, there was a lot of interest and discussion on whether or not the sales are remaining strong.
Upon return, Kayla also reported that by attending she was able to share the resources that Potatoes USA has available with even more growers. And that using examples of other retail websites as well as sharing retail website search examples is a helpful way to get retailers to understand what’s happening on a greater scale.
I’ll add the resources that she shared to the podcast episode page.
Kayla would like to attend the convention again next year and bringing more handouts specifically for any studies like the basket study or total store study.
When it comes to total potato sales at retail, most recent numbers show that from April 2021 to June 2021 dollar sales declined by 10.5% and volume sales declined by 15.5% but this is not a reason to panic.
If we again look back at what was going on in 2020 during these months, sports were being canceled, events, weddings and we went from being free to being confined to our homes. Consumers across the country turned to at-home activities including cooking. Not to mention, grocery stores were the only places that were still open. 2020 sales are impossible to compare to.
The good news is that both dollar sales and volume sales are up from 2019. For example, consumers spent $317 million more in April through June of 2021 on potatoes than they did in 2019. In volume sales, they bought 53 million more pounds of potatoes than they did in 2019.
In the fall, Kayla Dome, Global retail manager, will be working with IRI to find more ways to optimize how potatoes are best displayed at retail. All of the merchandising techniques will be combined into a guide PDF available as a resource to all retailers.
Potatoes have been seeing some praise in the media. For instance Runner’s World featured potatoes in an article that covered how to fuel for workouts.
And Eat This, Not That listed 10 satisfying weight loss dinners and stated “…serving of potatoes adds some healthy carbs to ensure your body doesn’t burn through muscle for energy.”
And lets not forget new menu items. Back in January, Twin Peaks launched several new loaded fry menu items such as chili loaded fries, pulled pork, buffalo and classic. Their culinary director, Alex Sadowsky recently shared the success of these menu items.
The most popular were the buffalo loaded fries but the classics came in at a close second. In addition, the majority of these menu items were being consumed during Lunch and Dinner but another day-part that was high on the list was Late Night.
It’s always great to hear about the successes of these potato menu launches, especially when potatoes are at the center of the plate.
Each year, in an effort to get more people to eat more potatoes in more ways around the globe, the international U.S. potato chefs, influencers and nutritionists develop hundreds of crave-worthy potato dishes from their perspective countries. By creating these global recipes, they help build a cultural bridge and show potato lovers here in the United States some new and exciting ways to enjoy potatoes.
Consumers in the U.S. are already looking for more global flavors in their food so having these recipes readily available is a great way to showcase potato inspiration and culture side by side.
These recipes, along with a plethora of other materials from graphics to handouts and more are available on Widen – Potatoes USA’s digital asset management platform. You’ll be able to find a direct link to Widen on this episode’s page. However, if you have questions or need assistance in locating the recipes or any other materials on Widen, please reach out to email@example.com
And this is a perfect way to lead into the international update!
With one of the world’s largest economies, Japan has been the highest value market for U.S. potatoes and potato product exports since 2014. In 2020 alone, Japan imported 425, 379 metric tons of potatoes with The U.S. share of the volume of these imports being 75% for frozen potatoes, 64% for dehydrated potatoes, and 100% for fresh potatoes. The U.S. is currently the only country with approval to export fresh potatoes for processing to Japan.
Meanwhile, consumer trends are rising in South Korea and U.S. potatoes are well positioned to support the trends. Overall, the U.S. is South Korea’s primary supplier of all potato and potato product imports, specifically 72% of the frozen potato import volume, 58% of the fresh potato import volume and 56% of the dehydrated potato import volume. With the increase in consumer income, dual-income families, and more women entering the workforce, demand for American-style convenience foods, home meal replacements, and frozen food products is rising. And so is the demand for high-quality foods.
So what’s been new on the menu in South Korea? Well, after a custom menu development presentation with U.S. potatoes, several new menu items were created for three major South Korean foodservice chains: Going Mary, Mon Chef, and No Brand Burger. As a result, Going Mary is launching four new U.S. potato menu items, Mon Chef is adding five new U.S. potato menu items, and No Brand Burger is looking to expand its U.S. potato offerings.
If you didn’t know this already, as August approaches, August 19th is National Potato Day. So mark your calendars and start planning on how you are going to celebrate! If you need any recipes or images to help you share the love and celebrate potatoes, the consumer social media posts are available on PotatoesUSA.com for your convenience.
In fact, the School Nutrition Association will be celebrating by including a Potatoes USA recipe in their June/July issue to inspire school foodservice operators to get excited about eating potatoes for breakfast with the Ultimate Hash Brown Breakfast Taco created by no other than Chef RJ Harvey.
But potato holidays don’t stop there. Looking ahead, September is National Potato Month as well as National Fruits and Veggies month. So get ready because there are a lot of potato celebrations coming up. We will be sharing our participation plans with the U.S. potato industry along with any assets.
Something I don’t get to talk often about on Potato-Cast but is very important, is the Potatoes USA Potato Research Advisory Committee (PRAC). Most recently, there have been five projects underway that will contribute to the future of the U.S. potato industry.
These projects are looking at soil health in the potato cropping systems, integrating next-gen technology, diploid and polyploid breeding and more! I will link all five projects to this episodes page, so make sure to give them a look! And if you have any questions you can reach out to John Lundeen at JohnL@potatoesusa.com
Well, that’s all the highlights for June.
To listen to previous episodes or if you missed the most recent Keeping It Current video update, check out the new audio and video section of potatoesusa.com
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All supporting documents for data provided in this episode can be found on potatoesusa.com. To see all the great information available about potatoes or new and fun ways to cook with potatoes, visit potatogoodness.com.
I am your host, Natalia Cervantes.
Until next time, take care everyone.