Mike Neary - Director, Horticulture - Bord Bia - Irish Food Board
Recent market research was carried out by Bord Bia with the objective of understanding consumer’s behaviours and attitudes towards fresh potatoes, with a more in-depth understanding of millennial relationships across all carbohydrates and in particular potatoes. The market research was carried out as an online survey (sample size n=1,500) with insightful results that will be used to inform the strategy of future potato promotional collaborative initiatives between Bord Bia and the Potato Industry.
The research showed that the carbohydrate world is being increasingly challenged (7 in 10 people see it being the least important part of the plate vs nearly 5 in 10 seeing protein and vegetables being more important) and with a rise in meal snacking new requirements and meal solutions are required from a more health and convenient driven culture. This is a challenge for the potato category which has a reduced importance for younger cohorts than previous generations.
However potato purchase penetration is still high at more than 97% across the population.
People are consuming potatoes on average more than 3 times a week. Focusing on the younger millennials and Generation Z cohorts they are likely to consume rice and pasta more frequently than previous generations, gravitating towards these other carbohydrates in particular for their perceived convenience and health properties. They believe that they are more aligned for their needs.
The health benefits of potatoes are not as well understood with millennials perceiving them as having more fat and calories when compared with other carbohydrates while older cohorts associate them as a source of fibre, magnesium and vitamin C. However where millennials are consuming more potatoes they have a better understanding of their nutritional benefits (of those consuming more potatoes, 35% are doing so for their fibre)
The research showed that the potato lacks relevance for many younger consumers and it is not being showcased online in the way other foods are eg on Instagram it lacks a major presence and is less likely to be a food that people are prepared to ”plate up” to show to their friends on social channels. There is limited understanding around potatoes with 35% of all people not knowing any variety, this goes up to nearly 5 in 10 for millennials.