In the Retail Fresh chain, the road to the consumer’s plate is a long one. That road starts at the HZPC breeding station, continues at our seed potato growers, from where the harvest goes, directly or indirectly, via packagers and distributors to the consumption potato growers. Their harvests go to the packagers and, finally, the distributors transport the bags of potatoes to the freshfood chains where they often enter the shop by large wheeled container.
Supermarkets themselves do not carry out research into what the consumer really wants to eat. Because of the absence of a marketing strategy, the valuable, versatile potato does not always end up where it should. The potato in its purest form is faced with high-consistency competitors such as pre-cooked pasta and rice, convenience food such as pizzas and ready meals and, outside the freshfood chain, the takeaway and quick service restaurants.
Within the Retail Fresh chain of the potato market, HZPC tries to think in a client-oriented way, i.e.: past the next link, as far as the supermarket customer’s meal. This is necessary to give the potato the position it deserves. Upgrading the potato: we do that with the full support of the international potato world. In the Netherlands, with the Dutch Potato Organisation (NAO), and the partners in the Retail Fresh chain, for example.
The big question is: what does the current ‘Generation Y’ want, those between 20 and 35 years, who have just started a family and are in their first or second jobs? One thing is clear for this assertive generation: as a consumer, he wants predictability. He has already made a choice in the past, and wants to make the same choice today and know what he is going to get. The packaging, the place, the price, the variety, the shape, the peeling, the cooking, the quality – all this needs to be the same as it was yesterday. At first sight, it seems that this is in direct contrast with his desires: because Generation Y wants Variety, Convenience and Pleasure.
Consistency, Variety, Convenience and Pleasure? The sector is no where near this ideal. This is typified by the market in 2012/2013. The season was good for growers of consumption potatoes outside the United Kingdom: among other things, the low yields in that country resulted in a shortage and consequently in higher prices in the other European Retail Fresh countries. Another thing was that high prices were being paid in the shop for poor quality. The consumer refused to accept this and switched to dishes with rice and pasta. The consequence for the 2013/2014: season was that the tonnage sold was 5 to 8 percent lower in nearly all European countries and the question is whether or not this can be rectified.
Consistency is therefore important to the customer, and HZPC wants to achieve that consistency with the partners in the chain. A great deal is to be expected in the coming years from the greatly improved presentation of potatoes as a healthy, affordable, inspiring and tasty crop, which will be achieved through appealing packaging designs, new presentations on the supermarket shelves and improved varieties.