|(click on headline for full story)||7/14/2010|
|Tools for Industry/Retail Marketing/Domestic||NEW SURVEY FINDS 3 IN 4 AMERICANS EATING MORE MEALS AT HOME|
|Tools for Industry/Retail Marketing/Domestic||KNOW YOUR CONSUMER TRENDS: CONVENIENCE PLAYS A CRITICAL ROLE IN DINNER DECISIONS|
|Tools for Industry/Retail Marketing/Domestic||DO DOLLAR STORES REPRESENT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FRESH POTATOES?|
|Foodservice/Domestic Marketing||FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY SHOWS SIGNS OF RECOVERY|
|Foodservice/Domestic Marketing||US POTATOES REMAIN STRONG AT TOP RESTAURANT CHAINS|
|Nutrition Campaign Advertising/Domestic Marketing||ONLINE ADVERTISING: AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO GET POTATOES ON THE DINNER TABLE, TONIGHT!|
|Nutrition Public Relations/Domestic Marketing||DIETITIANS CARRY HEALTHY POTATO MESSAGE|
|Industry Communications||USPB FY11 LONG RANGE PLAN NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE!!|
|Industry Communications||“US POTATO UPDATE” LAUNCHED IN PACIFIC NORTHWEST|
|International Marketing||INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES PLAN FY11|
|Chip-Stock/International Marketing||CHIPPING POTATO EXPORTS: “SMOOTH SAILING” TO JAPAN|
|Frozen/International Marketing||US FROZEN BAKERS FEATURED AT RESTAURANT CHAINS AND CORPORATE CAFETERIAS IN JAPAN|
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NEW SURVEY FINDS 3 IN 4 AMERICANS EATING MORE MEALS AT HOME
Findings just released from a recent study conducted by ConAgra Foods reports 75% of Americans have been cooking more meals at home during the past year, and intend to continue doing so. While this is good news for food retailers, it points up a real opportunity for the potato industry.
Many of the consumers surveyed by ConAgra reported positive aspects to all that home-cooking. More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said cooking has brought their family together, and 61% stated they were enjoying cooking more than previously. Among younger consumers (ages 18-34), the impact has been even more pronounced: 81% felt cooking increases quality family time and is bringing their family closer together, and 75% reported enjoying cooking more.
Potatoes are well-positioned to benefit as this behavior continues. ConAgra’s study reported half of Americans (52 %) say they expect to cook more in the coming year than they did last year; this rises to 72% among study respondents ages 18-34. And cooking more meals at home is encouraging younger consumers to become more adventurous in the kitchen, with 71% reporting they have started cooking new dishes (although 59% confess that they don’t always know what they are doing!), creating the perfect opportunity for potatoes to make major inroads with this consumer segment.
The study indicated the cause of this trend is clearly the economy. Nearly 4 in 5 Americans (79%) stated they do not feel like the recession is over, and more than 7 in 10 (71%) said they will continue the savings habits they developed during the economic downturn. In addition to those cooking more meals at home, 63% of consumers report they will continue to cut back on premium purchases and 49% of those already making cutbacks stated they will freeze more meals. And, many are enjoying their newfound budget-consciousness; two-thirds of those surveyed (67%) admitted they have enjoyed becoming more of a bargain hunter. Potatoes can capitalize on this bargain-hunting mentality to introduce shoppers to new varieties, sizes and form factors.
Phil Lempert, popularly known as the Supermarket Guru, and working in collaboration with ConAgra Foods, summed it up when he said “consumers are saying loud and clear that the effects of the recession are lingering. Over the past 20 months, shoppers are heading back to shopping lists and looking for real value.”
The dynamic of consumers looking for real value, while cooking more meals at home, creates a “perfect storm” of opportunity for the potato industry. Not only are potatoes a perfect part of virtually any home-cooked meal due to their versatility and nutritional value, but they are hands-down one of the biggest bargains in the produce department and, indeed, throughout the entire store. Shippers need to urge their retail partners to take full advantage of this situation, highlighting the great value of potatoes, while reminding shoppers of how easily potatoes fit into a wide variety of delicious and healthy favorite family meals. This could be accomplished using tactics such as potato recipes that showcase the low price per serving, or by partnering with food storage products to promote healthy “cook once, serve twice” potato meals. Younger shoppers will respond to serving ideas that provide new flavors or ethnic appeal for potato dishes, as well as “how to” cooking guides delivered via take-ones, retailer circulars or even online.
The United States Potato Board (USPB) is eager to assist the potato industry with making the most of the opportunity presented by an increasing number of meals cooked at home. Check out the domestic marketing section on www.uspotatoes.com to access many of our resources, or go to www.potatogoodness.com for convenient serving suggestions and delicious potato recipes.
KNOW YOUR CONSUMER TRENDS: CONVENIENCE PLAYS A CRITICAL ROLE IN DINNER DECISIONS
Recent findings from the NET Potato Consumption Trends show convenience is playing an increasingly important role in dinner decisions. The data shows the use of ready-to-eat
In order for potatoes to maintain relevance in our target audience’s life, it will be important to understand all the aspects of convenience and identify the best opportunity spaces for potatoes. The upcoming USPB Consumer Segmentation Study will be designed to achieve this, allowing the USPB to position potatoes as a convenient food in the most compelling way in future communications efforts.
NET Potato Consumption Trends:
DO DOLLAR STORES REPRESENT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FRESH POTATOES?
The dollar store business in the US is vast and growing rapidly. Just four retailers – Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only - tally nearly 20,000 retail locations between them, in contrast to slightly more than 35,000 stores if all traditional US grocers were totaled. And their business is booming…these four chains reported doing over $25.7 billion in revenue during the most recent fiscal year, with cumulative sales growth approaching double digits, despite a challenging economic climate. Dollar stores thrive by combining everyday low prices with the convenience of an easy-to-shop format located close to virtually every American household.
The dollar store business in the US can be separated into two segments: the single price-point retailers, led by Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only, where essentially all products retail for $1, and the extreme-value retailers, dominated by Dollar General and Family Dollar, where many products are offered for $1, but items may range up to $10 or even $15. These should not be confused with limited assortment grocery retailers (most notably the Save-A-Lot and Aldi chains) or close-out retailers (such as Big Lots or Grocery Warehouse).
Dollar store shoppers are not as one-dimensional and economically-challenged as they are often assumed to be. Nielsen research indicates that while 45% of dollar store sales do come from low income households (HH’s) (defined as those earning less than $30,000 annually), an even larger portion (47%) come from middle income households (earning between $30,000-$99,900 annually) with the remaining 8% coming from $100,000+ households. And while Nielsen reports more than 64% of all households are now shopping at dollar stores, a separate IRI household panel survey found 45% of HH’s earning $55-100,000 shopped the channel during the past 52 weeks as did 34% of HH’s earning $100,000+.
Food has become an increasingly important category for dollar stores. All four of the major dollar store retailers have moved aggressively into expanding their selections and adding frozen and refrigerated cases, and food now contributes north of 30% of total sales for each of these retailers. However, the IRI household panel study found that while 69.5% of dollar store shoppers reported buying packaged food products, only 3.5% said they purchased fresh or perishable items there.
All of these facts together point to an enormous opportunity gap for perishable items in the dollar store channel, and no other fresh product is as well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity as potatoes. Fresh potatoes have a longer shelf life than most fruits and vegetables, making them a more viable product to stock at stores that operate with a minimum of personnel. Potatoes offer a terrific value that can thrive even in “everything for $1” formats, providing sustainable profits for both the retailer and shipper. And, dollar stores are often one of the only retailers operating within the “food deserts” that have been making headlines lately, giving fresh potatoes the chance to provide consumers a much healthier and nutritious food choice than virtually every packaged food item the dollar channel stocks.
Fresh potatoes are already beginning to show up in some dollar store locations. 99 Cents Only stores have even been experimenting with produce sales by the pound, and promising results are leading them to expand the test to more locations. It’s time for shippers to give dollar stores some serious consideration, and capitalize on the unique advantages fresh potatoes have in a channel that could offer thousands of profitable new points of distribution.
FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY SHOWS SIGNS OF RECOVERY
In his “State of the Industry” presentation during this year’s National Restaurant Association Show, Technomic president Ron Paul said operators can celebrate the worst of the recent economic downturn being over, but they shouldn’t expect a broad, robust recovery in the near term. While leading chains, such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread and The Cheesecake Factory, reported traffic increases for the first quarter of the year, sales of the rest of the industry are forecasted to remain flat. “Yes, we’ve hit the bottom and the economy’s growing again, but it will take a long time to get back to the sales levels of 2007 and 2008,” Paul said.
The most important economic indicators for the restaurant industry to watch include unemployment, disposable personal income and consumer confidence, all of which remain at suboptimal levels, Paul said. “And the real wild card is going to be commodity prices,” he continued, “which may rise again soon.”
According to NPD’s latest SalesTrac Weekly Report, which measure 47 quick-service and family-style chains, same-store sales increased over a year earlier in six of the past eight weeks. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” said NPD Analyst Bonnie Riggs. “Consumers are starting to spend.” Price is less of an issue for consumers today than it was just last year, NPD found. In March, 27% of consumers surveyed said they were choosing less expensive restaurant as compared to 32% in June 2009.
US POTATOES REMAIN STRONG AT TOP RESTAURANT CHAINS
The USPB’s foodservice program has targeted leading quick and full-service chains, including those showing the most sales growth. Most importantly, in the past year, the number of potato side dish offerings at the top 350 chains grew 8% versus Q1 2009. French fries, baked and mashed potatoes remain the most popular potato items menued, and three of the top 10 side dishes served in restaurants---proof positive the appeal and profit-potential of potatoes is recession-proof.
ONLINE ADVERTISING: AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO GET POTATOES ON THE DINNER TABLE, TONIGHT!
Millions of consumers search for recipes online every day, and the USPB is capitalizing on this consumer behavior. The USPB ran an online advertising test in April and May to evaluate the effectiveness of reaching our “Linda” target on www.AllRecipes.com and www.MyRecipes.com, the two most highly-trafficked recipe sites on the web. The integrated advertising program builds on the overall “Peel Back the Truth” campaign by debunking the myth that potato dishes take a long time to prepare.
The campaign was extremely successful, delivering results that greatly exceeded industry standards. The integrated campaign generated over 43,000 interactions with our recipes, including over 37,000 recipe views and over 5,000 recipe print-outs. These results demonstrate online advertising is an efficient way to get our potato recipes in the hands of our target audience so she can serve potatoes for dinner tonight. Based on these positive findings, the online advertising program will be expanded in FY11 to promote our Quick & Health potato recipes on www.AllRecipes.com, www.MyRecipes.com, www.WeightWatchers.com and www.BHG.com (Better Homes & Gardens).
DIETITIANS CARRY HEALTHY POTATO MESSAGE
The USPB has partnered with registered dietitians (RDs) Katherine Brooking (also an FY09 RD Ambassador) and Julie Upton as part of their “healthy summer picnics and BBQ’s” ground media tour taking place this summer. The tour includes broadcast segments in top markets including New Orleans www.abc26.com/news/local/wgno-news-grill-tips,0,7835781.story, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, Chicago, Denver, Miami and more. Segments to-date have included fantastic potato nutrition information, as well as the recommendation to lighten up summer potato salads by using non-fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise, which news anchors are particularly interested in. Potatoes and nutrition messaging will also be included on Katherine and Julie’s “Appetite for Health” program which airs on the nationally syndicated (270+ markets) program “The Daily Buzz.”
USPB FY11 LONG RANGE PLAN NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE!!
With the start of the USPB’s new fiscal year (FY11) July 1, the newly revised Long Range Plan (LRP) is now available at www.uspotatoes.com/120lrp.html.
The FY11 LRP represents the final year of the FY07-FY11 LRP, the third such USPB Long Range Plan developed and executed since November 1999. Like the two Long Range Plans that preceded it, this version of our strategy is focused on the activities with the greatest upside potential for the industry. It is through the successful implementation of these strategies that we will achieve our ultimate goal: “MAXIMIZING RETURN ON GROWER INVESTMENT.”
“US POTATO UPDATE” LAUNCHED IN PACIFIC NORTHWEST
In its continuing efforts to reach growers and the potato industry at large with the very latest news and analysis of the global demand building programs of the USPB, the USPB Industry Communications Department launched the “US Potato Update”, Wednesday, July 7. Airing within the popular “Farm & Ranch Report, produced by the Northwest Ag Information Network’s Bob Hoff, and broadcast every Wednesday on 29 stations throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho, “US Potato Update” will reach the estimated 450,000+ potato acres in the Pacific Northwest.
“We are always looking for new communications programs that will extend our reach and coverage of growers and allied industry,” noted David Fraser, USPB Vice President Industry Communications & Policy. “After two years of working with Northwest Ag Information Network to develop the best possible program, we decided now was the time to layer the “US Potato Update” into our communications mix, reaching the concentrated acreage in the Pacific Northwest with just one cost-effective buy.”
Simply consult the station listing below to find “US Potato Update” in your area.
INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES PLAN FY11
The USPB International Marketing staff met with the Board’s international representative staffs from Japan, Korea, China, Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Vietnam and Singapore. Held June 21 – 25 in Beijing, China, the representatives provided their input into the development of the USPB FY12-FY16 Long Range Plan (LRP) for the international programs. Plans for the upcoming year were also discussed, as well as a review and analysis of especially effective marketing activities conducted the past year, so that learnings from one target market might be successfully adapted to another target market. A portion of the meeting focused on the Local Cuisine Initiative (LCI) the China representative has been conducting to integrate frozen US potatoes into Chinese dishes served at Chinese restaurants. All representatives gained first-hand experience by sitting in on an actual LCI seminar conducted for 30 employees of a large Chinese restaurant chain in Beijing that included a cooking demonstration by a renowned chef.
The USPB International Marketing Representative Meeting is conducted annually, rotating amongst the different USPB International target markets, to share ideas and coordinate programs and initiatives that will leverage the greatest return on investment to continue building global demand for US potatoes and potato products.
CHIPPING POTATO EXPORTS: “SMOOTH SAILING” TO JAPAN
The Japanese chip manufacturer, Calbee, reports all shipments of US potatoes have cleared inspection with no problems and have been moved to the processing plant in Hiroshima. Total imports of US potatoes were 1,909 metric tons, the largest ever. The potatoes will be processed during July and will be finished up by early August. With a smaller than average crop in Japan this year, these US potatoes are the key to Calbee being able to operate the plant over the summer.
Since the chip-stock program’s inception, the USPB has worked with targeted countries to grow US chipping potato exports. Calbee is an excellent example of the USPB and US industry working to identify relationships with the greatest potential for US exports and carefully cultivating those relationships over time. Calbee clearly understands the many benefits of US chipping potatoes, such that they now look to the US when local potato supplies are insufficient to meet their needs.
US FROZEN BAKERS FEATURED AT RESTAURANT CHAINS AND CORPORATE CAFETERIAS IN JAPAN
New Tokyo, an institutional foodservice company in Tokyo, has recently added baked potatoes, made with US frozen bakers, to their menus. New Tokyo runs 30 different restaurants, as well as managing corporate cafeterias for Toshiba, Mitsui Co., Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Mitsubishi Motors, NEC and others. Baked potatoes are being served on a number of different dishes instead of rice, using 4 oz frozen baked potatoes. The company was introduced to the product through an advertorial run by the USPB Japan rep and then follow up meetings with the USPB representative.
In recent years, the focus of the USPB frozen program has shifted to new products (US frozen bakers), new channels (corporate cafeterias) and local cuisine initiatives. As a whole, the US frozen potato category spans hundreds of products and has much to offer to both mature and developing markets in terms of opportunities. The addition of value-added products, such as frozen bakers, in marketing efforts has and will continue to help expand market penetration.
Japan remains the largest export market for US frozen potato products. While, little growth potential is expected for the shoestring fry market due to its maturity, work in new channels, with healthy and innovative products focused towards the needs of the population, has proven its ROI, as evidenced by the addition of US frozen bakers to New Tokyo’s menu in their restaurants and corporate cafeterias.
©2010 United States Potato Board