January has been a quieter month for potato markets. For most in the market, it has been more subdued than historically. Following the EU-exit agreement, exports of fresh potatoes have been able to continue. Although there was some disruption at ports at the start of the month.
January brings an opportunity to examine how Christmas went for potato markets from a retail and consumer perspective with the use of data provided by Kantar. Total spend on fresh potatoes increased 6% year on year for the 4 weeks to 27 December. This is the largest spend increase for potatoes, though was less than the 11.7% increase for total grocery spend. Volume of potato sales increased 14% as more families chose to spend Christmas in ‘social bubbles’ adhering to coronavirus guidelines.
One issue however was the decision by some retailers to lower prices (per kilo) of some Christmas vegetables to compete for demand and drive sales to ‘treat items’. This meant the average price for potatoes declined 7% year on year in the 4 weeks to 27 December. Spend and volume of frozen roast potatoes both declined slightly, but this was heavily countered by a surge in demand for chilled roast potatoes.
Free-buy markets have seen a more muted demand level throughout January. This has come as a result of expected post-Christmas lull and the third lockdown restricting mobility and eat-out hospitality. The rise in infection rates in early January caused consumers to reduce out-of-home journeys. The vaccination programme in place gives optimism for a gradual return in demand once lockdown measures ease.
Contracted material has been prominent in covering January demand. There has been some reports of ‘leftover’ Christmas supplies being used up which has also reduced the need for additional material. The AHDB weekly average price survey (WAPS) has seen lower tonnage levels throughout January in comparison to January 2020.
For more information:
AHDB Head Office
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
Stoneleigh Park - Kenilworth
Warwickshire CV8 2TL
Tel.: +44 024 7669 2051