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Familiarising consumers with the potato segment

Not waxy or mealy, but fast-cooking, culinary or fries. Dutch supermarket chain PLUS has been working on its potato category considerably. In cooperation with supply chain partner Landjuweel, both the assortment, the presentation and the packaging were carefully looked at. PLUS, declared most responsible supermarket for the fourth year running at the start of 2018, also took a look at sustainability. It led to a completely new potato category with an eye for flavour, origin, use, inspiration and sustainability.

Potatoes have always been an important category for PLUS. In supermarket land, they’ve managed to achieve a frontrunner position, according to Joost Hoes, fresh produce category manager of PLUS. “Our fair-share shows there’s no retailer that sells as many potatoes in proportion as PLUS. We sell a lot of bulk packaging of 2.5 and 5 kilos. Smaller packaging were represented less strongly, and it was therefore a good category to work on. Particularly considering the fact that the Dutch consumer has started buying more and more small packs in recent years. Individualisation and the increase of one and two-person households play a part in this. In the renewal process PLUS went through, the strong basic assortment of various large packaging and preparation methods was retained. We’ve extended it with a line of culinary small packs of one kilo. Besides, we have a new assortment group of small packs that offers the best potato for the right usage.”

Packaging help make decisions
Looking at the potato department, the large packs have naturally been stacked on the lower shelves. At the very bottom, in a specially designed rolling container, the five-kilo discount packs can be found, and consumers can choose between PLUS’s own brand in mealy or waxy, and a budget potato under the suppliers’ own brand. Above these are the mid-sized packaging of 2.5 kilos of PLUS’s own brand in the mealy, waxy and fairly waxy (red-skinned potatoes) versions. They also have two types of organic potatoes for boiling, in 2-kilo bags of the well-known Bio+ packaging, which will soon also be renewed.

The own brand packaging was given a new look. The piping on the bottom of the bag now has potato-shaped notches, clarifying the origin of the potatoes. The method of growth of the potato has been elaborated upon with the potato plant on the right of the packaging growing up ‘from the ground’ and turning into the green corporate identity characterising PLUS. The small packs that distinguish between waxy and mealy preparation methods have also been given this packaging style. Some basic preparation methods can be found on the large packaging. This is due to some new items on the shelves. “We want consumers to become familiar with the best potato for the recipe it was meant for. We’re offering new items to that end.”

Distinguishing characteristics
The distinguishing characteristics classifying the assortment according to usage are new. “The various types of packaging offer the best potato for the best use: fries, mashed potatoes, quick-boiling, packed per 1.5 kilo and small potatoes per 500 grammes. The Doy-style (upright) packs clearly have their directions written on them in large white letters. A great detail is that the packaging make it look as if the potatoes are already in the (frying) pan. Small, new potatoes also fit in this line, with the direction ‘great for baking or in the oven.’ A remarkable new direction is given by the fast-cooking potato. This is truly unique. The potato is boiled in its skin, and is ready in 12 minutes. The meal is therefore prepared quicker, and it’s healthier due to its skin,” Joost says.

A distinction is also made between culinary and season. The culinary potatoes have a luxurious upright pouch packaging that can easily be picked up. The seasonal potato is in a Doy-style pack with more luxurious printing. The culinary potatoes are distinctive due to their refined flavour and easy preparation method. The back of the pack features a culinary recipe tip, to inspire consumers.

With the seasonal potato, PLUS focuses more on the varieties and origins of the potatoes. “Although consumers are used to potatoes being a year-round product, we can still use these to respond to seasons. We point consumers in the direction of a website via the packaging, which tells them more about the origin of the potatoes. Recipe ideas can also be found on this website.”

Although the shelves are now filled with more packaging, sustainability was an important theme in this. “We’ve chosen to make large packs more sustainable. These are, and will remain, the frontrunners in our assortment. The new packaging now consists of 50% sugarcane, so we’re now saving at least 7,000 kilos in plastic every year.”

With the renewal, PLUS now offers multiple products to each of the customer profiles they know. “Customers will become even more loyal to PLUS this way, and we make sure potatoes are used more often, in order to cement our frontrunner position in this wonderful category,” Joost concludes.

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Joost Hoes   

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