Bright Outlook

Potatoes continue to reign as America’s favorite vegetable.

Published online: Jul 14, 2020 Articles Jill Rittenberg, Global Marketing Manager, Potatoes USA
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This article appears in the July 2020 issue of Potato Grower.

To understand changes in consumers’ opinions of potatoes, Potatoes USA conducts an annual Consumer Attitudes and Usage (A&U) study. The study tracks U.S. consumers’ mindset toward food and dietary choices, as well as overall attitudes toward potatoes. Results from the 2020 study show consumers love potatoes and are willing to consume more potatoes with the right resources and messaging. 

What drives food purchases?

Consumers are seeking flavor, freshness and foods that are a good value, good for them and that everyone enjoys. Not surprisingly, potatoes deliver on many of these attributes, with consumers giving potatoes high marks for being a food that everyone enjoys, being a good value, and fresh. Consumers also rank potatoes high for being versatile, filling and satisfying.

When cooking at home, 77 percent of Americans say that they tend to use recipes, showing that recipes continue to be an important part of their food inspiration and preparation.

How do potatoes fit in Americans’ diets?

For the fourth year in a row, potatoes rank as America’s favorite vegetable. Given the choice of the 20 most popular vegetables, potatoes again earned the highest rank among consumers, followed by broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and corn.

Across the country, 73 percent of consumers report eating potatoes at least once per week, with mashed potatoes being the most popular preparation, followed by baked potatoes and fries. Consumers describe their cooking styles as basic, traditional and short-order, with traditional cooking notably increasing from last 2019’s responses.

Consumer eating patterns continue to evolve, from the diet guidelines they follow to how they eat throughout the day. Nearly half of all consumers report following specific dietary guidelines, with carb-restrictive, low-sugar, and low-sodium topping the list. Fewer than half report eating the traditional three square meals per day, with or without snacks.

What will make consumers eat more potatoes?

The reasons consumers do not eat more potatoes include already having enough potatoes in their diets, a belief that potatoes are high in carbohydrates, and a preference for other vegetables. However, consumers would be motivated to prepare more potatoes at home if they had a shorter cooking time, ideas for new ways of cooking them, and preparation ideas for healthier nutrition. In addition, communicating nutritional benefits such as, “Potatoes provide the carbohydrates, potassium and energy needed to perform at your best,” would also motivate consumers to eat more potatoes.

There is no question that the environment around us is changing. People are spending much more time at home, cooking more meals and stocking up on nutrient-dense foods they feel good about eating. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in heightened interest in all things potato and presents an opportunity to further educate and inspire consumers to continue to consume America’s favorite vegetable.

A summary of the research can be found www.potatoesusa.com or by contacting Jill Rittenberg at jill@potatoesusa.com.