Growth in potato market welcomed

Wilson Country CEO Angus Wilson
Wilson Country CEO Angus Wilson

The size of Northern Ireland’s retail potato market value has increased by 2.2%, or £1.0m, for the 12 months ending November 30th 2018.

The latest Kantar figures show that the market was valued at £44.7m for the year in question.

This comes on the back of significant increases in all potato market trends recorded for the year ending May 31st 2018.

According to Wilson’s Country CEO Angus Wilson, this welcome development for the sector can be accounted for by an increase in consumer demand and a moderate rise in prices.

“All of the important markers for the potato industry are showing a positive trend at the present time. These include the number of consumers actually buying potatoes,” he said.

The Kantar potato figures show that spend per buyer went up from £61.99 to £62.33 while spend per trip increased from £1.80 to £1.82. Total volume of potato sales for 2018 were on a par with the previous year which had risen by 4.3% while the frequency of potato purchases and the volume of potatoes purchased per shopping trip remained reasonably constant.

Significantly, potatoes enjoy a 96.9% market penetration in Northern Ireland.

This means statistically that 96% plus of the population buy potatoes at least once in the six month period.

Angus Wilson attributes the rise in demand for potatoes to a number of factors.

“These include more people wanting to cook from scratch and the continuing investment by the industry in more consumer-friendly product options.”

Meanwhile, the good news from the point of view of local consumers is that there was an almost perfect potato harvest this year. The excellent weather of October and early November allowed growers to get on with their digging operations without interruption.

“We operate within a European market. Last year’s drought had a very negative impact on potato yields in many countries with average output down by some 10% to 15%,” Angus Wilson confirmed.

He concluded:“Potato eating quality is excellent. This will continue to be the case right through the coming season.

“Potatoes are slightly more expensive in the shops at the present time. However, the quality of this year’s crops is such that consumers are still getting tremendous value-for money.”