Despite increases in food prices that has seen many South Africans downscaling their food purchases and switching to cheaper options, sales and production figures provided by Potatoes SA indicates that the demand for potatoes shows no sign of weakening.
It is estimated that each South African consumed on average 40kg of potatoes during 2017. Our per capita consumption has steadily grown over the last two decades, only dipping during drought years. In fact, consumers spend R1 billion more on potatoes per year than ten years ago.
According to Immaculate Zinde, marketing manager of Potatoes SA, their research shows that the price of potatoes is not the primary factor that influences consumption.
The quality and size of the potatoes has a more significant effect on consumption than the price.
Economic circumstances are currently putting a lot of pressure on potato farmers, with fuel price increases coming while they are trying to recover from drought. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for us spud-lovers) there is also a slight over-supply of potatoes in the market, which is pushing potato prices down.
Potatoes SA attributes the resilience in demand for our favourite starchy veg in part to growing consumer appreciation of the nutritional value and versatility of potatoes. “The fact that the demand for potatoes is moving in the right direction is testament that consumers are becoming more enlightened about the attributes and benefits of potatoes,” says Zinde.