Jun 9, 2020
Organic potato sales robust in the retail sector during spring
Zeke Jennings

Retail potato sales in the U.S. were up more than 30%, year-over-year, during the period of April 1 to May 17.

That followed a first quarter that saw a 15.5% jump in retail sales, according to data compiled by IRI for Potatoes USA. The situation reflects the ongoing COVID-19 foodservice shutdowns and restrictions, which went into effect in early to mid-March in most of the country.

Organic potatoes, which have slowly been accounting for more of fresh retail market in recent years, did see a rise of 6.6% in dollar sales to $106.782 million, but accounted for just 2.0% of the market. Organic price-per-pound was $1.49, more than double of conventionally grown, which was $0.73 per pound.

For the marketing year, which is July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, retail volume is up 9.3%, year-over-year, and sales are up 10.4% to $11.417 billion. The average price per pound is up 1.0% to $1.69.

Despite the robust retail sales due to COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates, it hasn’t been a rosy few months for the potato industry. Nearly 60% of U.S.-grown potatoes go to the foodservice market. Decreased demand in that sector has left a surplus of processing-bound potatoes in storage and backed up the supply chain. It’s also led to a reduction in processing contracts for growers for the 2020 season.

Above, Organic potatoes from Tuscarora Organic Growers at Each Peach Market in Washington, D.C. Photo: USDA/Lance Cheung

Organic potato market slowly growing

Zeke Jennings is the managing editor of Spudman.com.

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