May 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.
I hope everyone has been having a nice start to their summer. It’s getting pretty hot here in Denver but as restrictions start to ease across the country and more places are increasing their capacity, summertime is definitely starting to get back into its usual swing.
In today’s episode, I will cover what the lift and ease on restrictions means for foodservice, new menu launches at restaurants, potatoes in the media, how Chef RJ Harvey has been “Chillin and Grillin”, potatoes at retail, the success of the Potato Pro videos, International Markets and upcoming Potatoes USA board nominations.
So let’s get into it!
Depending on where you are, restrictions are lifted, lifting, or easing. And according to the new OpenTable study, 31% of consumers say they have resumed their pre-pandemic regular dining out behavior. That is a 29% increase compared to last October. In addition, 54% of consumers plan to dine out at a restaurant with table service in 2021 at least once a week or more.
1 out of 3 diners say the number 1 thing they are most looking forward to when dining out is connecting with family and friends. This is music to my ears and for the restaurant industry. Now, I don’t have information on what exactly consumers will be eating when they dine out but potatoes are definitely making an appearance on menus.
For example, Panera added a Summer Corn Chowder to its menu which is a combination of roasted corn, skin-on red potatoes, poblano peppers, and cilantro, all simmered in sweet cream. YUM!
And listen to this one. Truffled pepperoni pizza fries. These are fries loaded with in-house marinara and a French classic mother sauce, then topped with grated mozzarella, Brooklyn-style pepperoni slices, and a drizzle of white truffle oil. You can find these unique loaded fries in south Miami, at a restaurant called Cracked. People from all over come to Cracked for these loaded pizza fries. And I can see why. What a great combination when you can’t decide between having pizza or having fries!
Speaking of restaurants, according to Tecnomic, frozen potato volume at foodservice is expected to increase up to 15% (225 million pounds) in the 2nd quarter of 2021 compared to Q1. We know that total frozen potato volume declined 4% in the first quarter of 2021. This decline was heavily caused by the reduced traffic to full-service restaurants as well as beyond restaurants, such as universities, entertainment venues, and lodging, all of which remained much lower than pre-pandemic levels.
With warmer weather finally here and vaccinations rising, frozen potato volume at foodservice will hopefully soon reach pre-pandemic levels again.
Potatoes are also seeing praise in the media. Livestrong shared their list of 20 foods that are high in good carbohydrates and highlighted potatoes on the list for their vitamin C and potassium.
The Independent listed 6 reasons why potatoes are good for you and addressed misinformation about potato nutrition making sure readers know that potatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, and the fact that they are naturally gluten-free!
Also, the 2020 State of the Plate study stated that potatoes are consumed 107 times per person annually, followed by lettuce and vegetable salads.
Potatoes are consumed away-from-home more frequently than at home and primarily as a dinner side dish, followed by lunch.
For example, on average, consumers eat 2.1 cups of fries per eating occasion and fries are also most likely to be eaten with burgers and sandwiches.
Speaking of burgers, it wouldn’t be summer without backyard grilling!
That’s why Chef RJ teamed up with the local Denver Gilling Master, Chef Jason Morse and the two of them spent 3 days filming fun consumer summer grilling videos. They called it Grill and Chill. From fun potato ideas for camping to backyard BBQs and even some tips for chefs to use in their kitchens, these videos are engaging and full of summer joy. Definitely, the type of content that would bring a laugh and smile to your face and make you want to Grill and Chill.
I’ll add links to the videos on this episode’s page and feel free to use them in your marketing as well.
Last month we had Kayla Dome on Potato-Cast to discuss the recent retail trends and share how the month of March 2020 sales were truly an isolated occurrence.
And when looking at March, April, and May of this year, the numbers can seem concerning when you compare them to last year, but rather than looking at the same months that were driven by panic, it’s better to look at the numbers more holistically because that story is different.
For example, deli prepared sides are up in dollar sales by 1.7% from July 2020 to May 2021. A category that was almost non-existent when salad bars were removed last year.
And within the fresh category, yellow potatoes are up by 12% in dollar sales and by 8.2% in volume. Specialty potatoes are also up in both metrics with petites up in dollars by 15.3% and volume by 17%, medleys up in dollars by 26.7% and volume by 32.4%, and fingerlings up in dollars by 13.9% and volume by 9.2%. The growth in these categories makes up for whatever decline we are seeing with russets, reds, and white potatoes.
While potatoes were described as the pandemic powerhouse over the last year, what’s more important is that potatoes continue to see long-term growth at retail. We discussed last month some of the ways Kayla Dome is supporting that continued growth through conducting research to update merchandising best practices for retailers, creating online toolkits, and working with prominent retail media to get the information available out there.
Recently, Kayla Dome and Potatoes USA worked with The Packer to target grocery decision-makers through a multi-faceted media campaign that included three podcast episodes. The podcast episodes discussed merchandising, the fresh potato consumer, and the new normal for all potatoes. Episodes were also accompanied by related articles and emails. The campaign drove over 2,000 readers to The Packer where the podcast episodes could be downloaded along with the related content.
Speaking of campaigns, the Potato Pro videos that were launched back in January are continuing to show strong results and positive reactions from consumers.
The most recent numbers show that in the month of May, the Potato Pro videos had 2 million views on YouTube and 1.7 million views on social. These fun and engaging videos keep sharing the love for potatoes across a variety of platforms and consistently drive traffic to recipes on PotatoGoodness.com
In fact, these Potato Pro videos are so creative that some industry members have started to use them in their marketing. Christine Lindner, Marketing Manager at Alsum Farms & Produce says that collaborating with Potatoes USA materials is very valuable, especially if you have a smaller marketing team and don’t want to always start from scratch. Lindner incorporates the videos into Alsum Farms social media and website.
As a friendly reminder, all Potatoes USA marketing materials are available as a resource for anyone in the U.S. potato industry. So feel free to utilize the Potato Pro videos on your social or website.
If you watched our most recent Keeping It Current update, John Toaspern gave an update about the recent Mexican Supreme Court ruling that overturned the 2017 lower court decision that prevented importing of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout Mexico. He shared with the industry that the first thing that needs to occur is for the Supreme Court to publish its ruling. Once the ruling is published then the other outstanding cases brought by CONPAPA need to be resolved or dismissed.
The next thing that needs to occur is for the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture to reinstate the regulations that were in place back when the lawsuits were brought.
You can watch the 5 min Mexico Market Access update on PotatoesUSA.com and on this episode’s page.
Potatoes USA and the National Potato Council will continue working with their legal team, technical experts, and representatives in Mexico as well as the USDA FAS and APHIS (aye fis) officials in Mexico and Washington DC to push for implementation of needed steps as soon as possible. If you have any questions about this please feel free to reach out to John@potatoesusa.com
This brings me to another international update.
Since the new Buy U.S. campaign rolled out in late 2020, Potatoes USA international agencies have used the materials to bring excitement and life to their marketing activities.
For example, in the United Arab Emirates, a new market for Potatoes USA, the Potatoes USA representative agency utilized the campaigns’ bold imagery to make a statement that drew in customers at the Gulfood trade show booth. Gulfood is the largest food and beverage trade show in the world and certainly the perfect place to introduce the new campaign to the market.
Other markets like Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, translated the Buy. U.S. brochures into their local languages to make it easier to hand them out at events or one-on-one meetings and trainings.
All Buy U.S. materials are available for industry use on Potatoes USA’s digital asset management system, Widen, and I’ll add a link to this service on this episode’s page.
Last but certainly not least, nominations are now open for new Potatoes USA Board Members for the 2022-2025 term. The board is seeking to fill a total of 58 open seats for producers and a public member.
All state potato organizations have received the information and materials to begin the process of nominating interested growers. If you or someone you know is interested in being considered by your state grower leadership, please contact your state program manager. In addition, you can alternatively contact Carrie Connelly, Potatoes USA Executive Administrator and Director of HR by sending her an email at Carri@potatoesusa.com
Well, that’s all the highlights I have for May. Time for me to go get some potatoes so I can Grill and Chill like RJ and Jason!
Thank you for listening to this episode of Potato-cast! Please subscribe on Spotify, Apple, or Google Podcast by searching for Potato-cast.
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.