31 Jan 2014

Humble spud most popular vege

9:02 pm on 31 January 2014

The industry body for potato growers is using the vegetable's new popularity to launch the largest marketing campaign it has ever undertaken.

Based on how much New Zealanders spent on individual fruit and vegetables in the year to June 2013, latest official figures show $119 million was spent on potatoes, beating tomatoes into second place by $400,000.

Sector umbrella body Potatoes New Zealand is capitalising on vegetable's popularity by creating a new consumer-friendly website and working on a marketing campaign to promote the potato as cheap, easy to prepare and nutritious.

Chief executive Champak Mehta said his organisation also commissioned Neilsen to undertake a survey on the trends in spud buying and eating. which showed every New Zealander consumed 23-24kg of potatoes a year.

"Consumers are interested now in healthy eating, and that's becoming a lot more mainstream. They've got a passion for freeform foods and optimal nutrition, and green issues and ethical issues of sustainability are very important to them as well."

The survey had highlighted that these were important decisions in people's potato-buying behaviour, and Potatoes New Zealand needed to let the consumer know it was still relevant in all these areas, Mr Mehta said.

The marketing campaign would emphasise the advantages of eating potatoes over fellow carbohydrates.

New marketing could also include potatoes sold in stores in pre-prepared or semi-prepared formats to compete with the convenience and versatility of frozen foods, he said.