In the midst of a year full of change, understanding shopping habits for all potato categories at retail is critical. Potatoes USA, in partnership with Kantar Insights Consulting, conducted a Total Store study that identified opportunities for potatoes across the whole store, including the perimeter and the center of the store.
In 2020, sales in grocery stores for potatoes reached nearly $14 billion and increased by 16% compared to the previous year. Eighty-six percent of households purchased potatoes from one or all of the potato categories available across the whole store, and the average basket size reached $79 when potatoes were in it, a $13 increase from 2019.
The study showed that not only is the perimeter of the grocery store important for increasing sales, but so is the center of the store.
Perimeter and Center Store
In 2019, the majority of consumers were shopping the perimeter with only limited trips into the center aisles for essentials. In 2020, retailers saw a return to the center store categories and potatoes were included in this trend.
The fresh potato has typically been a key driver in total store sales for retailers. Baskets are typically larger when fresh potatoes are in them and this did not change in 2020. What did change is how those fresh potato consumers ventured to other areas of the store. The types of items in the basket with fresh potatoes shifted. For example, fresh potato consumers use to purchase mainly fresh potatoes, but now they are consistently buying frozen potatoes as well.
Frozen potatoes ended up seeing the highest increase in repeat purchasing compared to any other potato category. The best news for this category is that consumers did not only come to the freezer section to stock up in March, but they also came back for repeat purchases through the end of the year. Consumers cited the following factors for continuing to purchase: the benefits for children, the great taste of frozen potatoes, and the fact that they felt good feeding frozen potatoes to their families.
Dehydrated potatoes also saw a lift. They are being purchased as part of a full meal, showing that the convenience factor is a large contributor to the purchase decision. However, the biggest change in the dehydrated consumer came from their basket size. The dehydrated potato consumer spent the most per shopping trip compared to every other potato category.
Ninety-four percent of consumers are compelled to purchase potatoes after seeing information, packaging, and resources such as recipes, in-store. This punctuates the importance of having the right signage in-store to increase sales of all potato categories. Previously, in-store displays in various locations were the most important factor in reaching higher retail sales. Now, the information on these displays is incredibly important to the retail consumer when making a purchase decision. Retailers should focus on highlighting the convenience of particular potato items and the nutrition information should be visible on these displays. Nutrition information converted about 15% more shoppers into buying more potatoes.
In addition to nutrition information on signage and highlighting potato convenience, retailers should focus on providing consumers with inspiration. Research showed that retailers with recipe recommendations highlighting the ease of use were more likely to see higher potato sales. As we move forward, consumers expect retailers to create a strong in-store experience.
Online sales for potatoes have significantly increased as consumers became more comfortable ordering perishables in 2020. More potatoes were being picked up curbside and delivered than in 2019, which means consumers were using retailer websites more consistently to purchase potatoes. About half of consumers visited retail websites to plan their shopping trips. They used the retail website to get detailed product information, find healthier options for items they typically buy, and recipe information for potatoes. It is important retailers focus on strong landing pages to ensure potatoes continue seeing growth in sales in this space.
Potatoes were a pandemic powerhouse for retailers across the country. Not only did the sales increase in March, but they continued to grow through the end of the year, showing consumers’ desire to continue cooking potatoes at home. By leaning into the insights from the total store study, retailers can push even further to reach, educate, and motivate consumers to continue buying more potatoes.