Spuds slump


Potatoes are losing popularity as other starches, such as rice, become more favored (and presumably as many people cut out carbs from their diets). The Guardian reports that potato sales in England are down “by more than 8% during the past year as shoppers opted for alternatives.” It’s interesting to note that this doesn’t seem to reflect a conscious decision by shoppers – almost all consumers surveyed said that they were not aware that they had cut back. 

The U.K. Potato Council is worried about this decline. Their recommendations for reversing the decline? Recipes and in-store promotions that show finished dishes: “Shoppers need distractions and better signposting. A lot of shoppers make an emotional connection when they see a potato in its prepared form, rather than as a raw vegetable.” One might think there are plenty of “distractions” in the grocery store already, but consumers should expect to see more signs in the potato bins featuring fluffy mashed or golden roasted potatoes. If we are lucky, they will include some samples for tasting as we shop.

Similar declines in spud purchases can be seen in Germany and North America, where “potato consumption has declined 12% in the past five years.” (This despite a per capita yearly consumption of 44 lbs (20 kilos) of french fries in the U.S.!) In most cases, both fresh and processed potatoes are on the decline, but in some places, such as Germany, overall consumption remains steady while fresh potato sales are going down.

Is your potato consumption declining? Do you attribute the downturn to the popularity of other starches such as rice or dietary concerns about carbs?

Photograph by Darcie Boschee


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  • Jane  on  June 29, 2014

    I very rarely cook potatoes at home. My reason is there are so many starches I enjoy more such as quinoa, farro, rice, freekah, etc. I use all those starches in recipes whereas with potatoes I tend to think of them just as very straightforward – roast, mash, etc. The other possible reason is that potatoes go off whereas all those starches can be stored a long time so I always have them in my store-cupboard.

  • ellabee  on  June 30, 2014

    I love potatoes and don't worry about carbs. The decline in my potato consumption has to do with a resolve to stick to locally and organically grown potatoes — because conventionally farmed potatoes are high on the list of pesticide-laden vegetables./fruit. In the US, we're in one of the high periods for waxy potato buying: what is the Fourth of July without potato salad?

  • Rinshin  on  June 30, 2014

    I use potatoes more than I ever did. But, because we are getting older our appetite has been diminishing and so we sometimes even split 1 potato when we are baking. But, potatoes are used quite often in Japanese cooking. Potesala (potato salad) is really big in Japan. Much bigger than when I was younger. New potatoes are very much appreciated as seasonal food.

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