18 September 2020
Colorado bagged potato sales up thanks to COVID-19
BAGGED potato sales in Colorado are thriving as a result of the COVID-19 impacts, growers and suppliers have confirmed.
In a recent interview with The Packer, Jim Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said: “Demand has been very strong, because people have learned to cook at home again.The demand for fresh potatoes has increased from 15-30% since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Les Alderete, General Manager of Skyline Potato said the virus had helped to keep demand strong for the retail section. "As people stay home, they fix more meals at home, which has been a big boost,” he said.
The USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is also believed to have fed the increase in packaged potato sales.
Jamey Higham, CEO and president of Monte Vista-based Farm Fresh Direct LLC, said the loose or bulk potato business had been been impacted, while the bagged sector was favoured at retail.
“I think shoppers feel safe with packaged goods versus those that may have been handled or touched at the point of sale.”
Marketing Director at Aspen Produce LLC, Jed Ellithorpe, added: “Demand on all things retail is up substantially, as well as consumer direct sales.”
Shoppers seem to be looking for manageable package sizes, said Bill Metz, co-owner of grower-shipper Metz Potato Co. LLC.
“We’ve seen in the warehouse on our consumer pack is a lot of 5- and 4-pounders, so I think the consumer is buying but buying less,” he said. “Ten- to 20-pounders are kind of a thing of the past.”
Idaho-based Wada Farms Marketing Group is also seeing a similar pull on bagged product. Marketing Director Eric Beck said: “As more consumers rediscover the joys of eating at home on both a culinary and economic standpoint, we are seeing more pressure come about for more bagged SKUs (stock-keeping units) in the marketplace.
Photo courtesy of The Packer - www.thepacker.com