S E P T E M B E R / O C O T O B E R 2 0 1 7 6 POTATO GROWER Ross Johnson, Global Marketing Manager, Potatoes USA Nielsen retail sales data (through 4/29/17) shows that the start to 2017 has delivered some mixed results with dollars showing growth and volume showing a slight decline. However, there is one important factor affecting the numbers: 2016 was a leap year that provided an extra shopping day in February. Despite the fact that there was an extra day of sales in 2016, the daily average for 2017 was down less than one percent compared to the same time in 2016. This points to the changing retail environment and the opportunities that this can cre- ate for potato sales. One big change is the growth of the “grocerant” sector for retailers and the newest trend hitting the streets today is the trend for in-store meal kits. According to Fortune Magazine, Blue Apron has heard feedback from their customers sur- rounding the importance potatoes play in their meals. “The culinary team has found through consumer feedback that its customers prefer potatoes over grains—and that pota- toes are more versatile than grains, allowing for more creative cooking techniques.” Retailers would be smart to replicate this strategy as adding potatoes to in-store meal kits will not only drive more profit, but also drive more engagement with their consumers. We have seen a decline in monthly trips to the store over the past seven years when it was 11.1 trips per month in 2009 to just 9.4 trips per month at the end of 2016. This has retailers laser focused on driving incremental baskets by encouraging cross category purchases. The beau- tiful thing about fresh potatoes is that they deliver just that. According to Nielsen data for 2016, when looking at the top vegetable categories, fresh potatoes drive the largest average basket size at $83.14 a trip. The other commodities tracked for this analysis were Onions ($78.76), Tomatoes ($77.16), and Packaged Salad ($80.58). Not only do potatoes encourage larger shopping trips, they are also purchased by more US households than any other produce item. Potatoes increased to 88% of US households purchasing them which is up from 87% in 2015. Potatoes USA Mes sage Fresh Potato Sales At Retail: Opportunities & Challenges