(Aug. 26) In 2001, the potato category averaged $1,618 in sales per week per store, rebounding from $1,468 per week per store in 2000. While potatoes are a year-round category, sales tend to spike during the fourth quarter. Last year potato sales peaked in November, with sales at $2,620 per week per store.

Last year national potato category contribution to total produce sales increased to 6.2 percent from 5.5 percent in 2000. Potato contribution to total department sales in 2001 increased over annual 2000 levels in all regions of the country.

The potato category is segmented using the National Potato Promotion Board’s “Potato Pyramid,” which is comprised of the following: bargain bag (bag sizes of 8 pounds or more); mainstream (standard-grade loose potatoes and bag sizes between 4 and 7 pounds); premium (high-quality loose potatoes, small bag sizes 3 pounds or less and organic potatoes); and specialty (unique offerings, fingerlings and purple potatoes). In 2001, 41 percent of potato volume came from the bargain bag segment, while the mainstream segment accounted for 54 percent of volume. However, when looking at dollar share, 65 percent was attributed to the mainstream segment and 25 percent of sales came from the bargain bag segment in 2001. The premium and specialty segments accounted for less than 10 percent of potato volume and dollars in 2001.

Sales data are provided by Efficient Marketing Services, Deerfield, Ill., and by the National Potato Promotion Board, Denver. The data represent potato category results for Jan. 1, 1999, through Dec. 31, 2001, compiled from more than 3,500 stores nationwide, representing more than 30 supermarket chains. The Perishables Group Inc., Carpentersville, Ill., and the USPB use the FreshFacts system and EMS data in potato category management with retailers across the country.

Contact: Beth Padera; phone: (312) 951-2774; e-mail: beth@perishablesgroup.com.