Potatoes enjoy a 12-month period of significant growth

The last 12 months have been marked by a significant increase in the size of the potato market in Northern Ireland.

But more importantly, all the analysis indicators within the sector are now showing a positive year-on-year difference.

For the year ending May 20, 2018, the size of Northern Ireland’s retail potato market was valued at £45.5 million.

Rising sales

This represents a year-on-year increase of 1.6%. And this trend is reflected within all the other relevant market parameters.

The total volume of potato sales rose by 4.3% over the past 12 months while the price paid per kilo increased by 3.3%.

In addition, the frequency of potato purchases rose by 1.8% while the volume of potatoes purchased per shopping trip increased by 1.9%, again year-on-year.

Significantly, potatoes enjoy a 96% market penetration in Northern Ireland which means that 96% of the population buy potatoes at least once during the season.

Market share figures produced for the Republic of Ireland for the past 12 months mirror many of these trends.
Total retail sales were valued at €196.7 million for the year ending May 20, 2018.

This represents a 0.1% increase year-on-year. Total grocery spend in the Republic was up by 2.8% during the same period. Potatoes enjoy a 97% penetration within the Irish market.

“Ireland’s food retail sector is on the rise and the potato industry is benefitting in almost equal measure,” according to Wilson’s Country managing director Lewis Cunningham

“Our analysis indicates that consumers are continuing to buy smaller potato pack sizes. It is also very interesting to note that sales of other carbohydrate sources, including rice and pasta, have remained static over the past year.”

Cunningham also indicated that demand for part prepared potatoes, peeled, chips and mash etc had grown significantly over the past 12 months.

“This is an amazing platform from which to build a campaign to promote the nutritional value of potatoes.”

Commodity markets

However, in a note of caution, the Wilson’s Country managing director indicated that the local potato sector is now operating within an international environment.

Crop quality and quantity in countries like Germany, Belgium and Holland are as relevant and important to local potato growers as is the size of the final crop harvested here in Northern Ireland.

“We are now operating in a truly international market,” he said.

“Potatoes are of course deemed to be commodities and are treated in the same way as is the case with the outputs from the beef, dairy and cereals sectors. The weather, demand, area planted and quality levels all influence the market returns.

“And these are key factors which the local industry must consider as it plans for the future.”