Potatoes may be a traditional staple with consumers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for something new, marketers say.
Golds, yellows, reds and other hues are spicing up the potato category, as are new size options, they say.
“One of our recent introductions is Green Giant CarbSmart low-carb yellow potatoes — a true breakthrough in the category,” said Ralph Schwartz, vice president of sales and category management with Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Potandon Produce LLC.
Varieties continue to evolve, driven primarily by consumer demand and the abilities of the industry to introduce new products, Schwartz said.
“We’ve seen steady growth in the yellow potato subcategory, driven in a large part by Potandon’s Klondike Goldust potato,” he said.
Purple potatoes have established a niche in the market but aren’t considered a “game changer” yet, Schwartz said.
“We are also seeing variegated-flesh potatoes entering the marketplace — the flesh is multi-colored or has a starburst interior pattern in it,” Schwartz said.
“Potandon started marketing our Klondike Bordeaux in Washington recently, and we’re going to make it nationally available (soon).”
It’s important to find the right potato variety for specific occasions, said Dana Rady, director of promotion, communication and consumer education with the Antigo-based Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association.
“In other words, perhaps specialty or petite potatoes will work better for individuals that are in a rush on a particular weeknight to make a homemade meal,” Rady said.
“The main point to drive home is that there is something for everyone and every occasion with the potato, and all options can be healthy options that are easy, fun and delicious. You can truly have it all with potatoes,” Rady said.
Varietals have “brought excitement back” to the potato category, said Ross Johnson, international marketing director with the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission.
“We are seeing microwaveable options are driving a lot of buzz as they help the consumers save time in the kitchen.”
Yellow potatoes are big sellers, said John Pope, vice president of sales and marketing with Houston-based grower-shipper MountainKing.
“If it’s yellow, it’s selling,” he said. “At MountainKing, our yellow potatoes continue to experience a multiple-year surge as retail price gaps narrow and as more consumers experience their improved flavor as compared to traditional potato varieties.”
More varieties provide options for consumers, said Ken Gray, vice president of sales and marketing with Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Bushwick Potato Co. Inc.
“Fingerlings with color/varieties, such as Russian banana, purple Peruvian and ruby crescent have become very popular for their taste and texture.”
Round, white potatoes have seen a resurgence over the past couple of years, said Keith Groven, fresh sales manager with Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold Farms.
“I think some of the reasons for this is that the supply chain is getting very efficient with these varietals and consumers can find a high quality and appealing potatoes year-round,” he said.
“The flavors, texture, and color that varietals provide certainly add a culinary flair to most dishes.”
However, over the past five years, varietals have carved into markets once dominated by whites and russets, said Rachel Atkinson-Leach, category manager with Bancroft, Wis.-based Russet Potato Exchange Inc.
“Varietals — red, yellow, blend/medley, purple — now make up 43% of total category dollars and 29% of volume,” she said, citing IRI data from 2014-18.
“Specifically, medley/blend potatoes are really starting to gain ground — up 3 dollar share points as consumers are looking for new flavors and new experiences in their meal selections.”