DENVER — The coronavirus outbreak has made a significant impact on the foodservice sector. The foodservice industry experienced historic declines in sales, and similarly, so did frozen potato sales at foodservice. According to Technomic, in each quarter of 2020, frozen potato volume remained below 2019 levels (total loss of almost 1.5 billion pounds in 2020), with the most significant decline year-over-year being in the first half of 2020. The end of 2020 showed modest improvement due to limited-service restaurants, such as quick-service restaurants, experiencing less impact than other segments.
First-quarter frozen potato sales in 2021 are below 2019 and 2020 levels. Total frozen potato volume declined 4% in the first quarter of 2021 (75 million pounds less than Q1 2020). The most significant decline was beyond restaurants and full-service restaurants, consistent with the fact that traffic to businesses, Universities, and lodging remained much lower than pre-pandemic levels due to continued dine-in re-closures and capacity restrictions in some regions. Limited-service restaurants buoyed the category with year-over-year growth, attributed to their service models being better equipped for takeout and delivery.
Frozen potato volume is expected to increase up to 15% (225 million pounds) in the 2nd quarter of 2021 compared to Q1 and increase up to 35% (450 million pounds) compared to Q2 2020.
With warmer weather on the way and the loosening of restrictions, frozen potato volume will hopefully soon reach pre-pandemic levels and once again flourish.
For questions, contact Kendra Keenan at Kendra@PotatoesUSA.com.
— Potatoes USA via Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
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