||Research & Innovation
Innovation—Getting it Done
The dialog in the industry about innovation is very positive. There is genuine interest among many fresh shippers and growers to do something, so let’s get to it. We have a fairly good idea what new products many consumers will respond to—convenient-to-cook potato dishes presented as meal solutions, not raw ingredients.
Experimenting with packaging, flavorings and recipes that offer these attributes will surface some winners. Developing the ability to experiment affordably, pretest concepts with consumers and partner with a retailer to test market products that demonstrate promise are critical steps to success. All of these steps require financial and personnel investments beyond the demands of today’s business. Those who understand and chose to pursue this opportunity must commit to these investments or realign their business to associate with those who are.
Many consumers will continue to purchase and serve fresh potatoes. However, it is very clear that fewer consumers do so every year, and those who do are primarily families with children in the mid- to lower- income brackets. The growth areas of the United States population are one- and two-person households—empty nesters and young adults—who don’t cook traditional meals their parents did. Innovative fresh potato products that offer interesting and quick-to-prepare potato meals can put potatoes back on dinner plates of one- and two-person households…and profits back to the industry!
Potatoes in the United Kingdom
We visited the UK and witnessed innovative new fresh potato products. We also saw a dramatically changing retail and fresh potato shipper landscape. Offering good quality potatoes for sale at competitive prices and delivered on time are not the drivers of business in the UK today. Shippers must provide more value than that to the retailer to remain in business. Those who have developed the capabilities to help the retailer grow the business (manage the category, develop promotional ideas and materials, create new products that increase sales, etc.) have replaced shippers who could not. The same competitive issues exist in the US retail market that has brought significant changes forward in the UK. Do you think the implications for the US potato industry will be different?
The United States Potato Board has developed the foundation of information that the industry needs to address these challenges. To tap into those resources today!