February is Potato Lover’s Month—a celebration of one of my favorite produce items. I’m originally from the UK, a place with a long and storied history in potatoes. I’ve enjoyed an almost 20-year-and-counting career in the potato industry as a potato agronomist, technical manager, and now vice president at Albert Bartlett™, a family-run business with 60 years of potato-growing experience. So it’s safe to say that I’m an enthusiastic fan of potatoes.
On any given day, 12% of the U.S. population is eating potatoes. They’re the number three volume mover in the produce category, and as one of the historically least expensive sources of calories in the produce department, they have a high consumption rate across nearly every demographic cut.1 For many families, potatoes are a permanent fixture on holiday tables, a key ingredient in savory brunches, and an all-around versatile and convenient ingredient. With as many uses as there are varieties, there are plenty of reasons to raise a fork to potatoes.
Classically delicious with endless potential
With so many varieties of potatoes available, consumers, foodies, home cooks, and chefs are thinking beyond baked or mashed potatoes. Because, while those preparations are tasty and timeless, there are so many other ways to enjoy the versatility—and many varieties—of potatoes.
In my eyes, all potatoes are all-stars. To make sure they’re able to live up to their full potential, it’s important to recognize the characteristics of the many potato options available. For example, starchy potatoes are great for frying, baking, and roasting. Waxy varieties hold together well when boiled or mashed and are great in soups, stews, casseroles, and salads.
Potatoes are for every palate
One of my favorite things about potatoes is that there’s seemingly a potato variety—and recipe—for every palate. As mentioned, preparation techniques vary between different kinds of potatoes, including baking, mashing, frying, boiling, sautéing, roasting, and pureeing, and they can be used in all kinds of cuisine. I’m a big fan of roasting Albert Bartlett™ Rooster potatoes in goose fat, which brings out the nutty flavor and buttery texture of the vegetable. Whatever your favorite potato dish or preparation, one thing is certain: potatoes are no longer destined for a life of side dish monotony.
Showcase the many varieties and uses of potatoes
As consumers continue to focus on using great-tasting, versatile, convenient, and healthy ingredients in their home-cooked meals, retailers can spotlight potatoes as a fresh item that fits the criteria. Here are three ideas to inspire consumers to partake in this month’s potato celebration.
- Highlight the features of each variety—like the quicker cooking times of smaller potatoes, the great pop of color that roasted purple potatoes can add to a dish, or the ways some starchy potatoes are great at absorbing flavors. Be sure to remind consumers of the many health benefits of potatoes, too. For example, potatoes are a great source for many vitamins phytochemicals, including flavonoids that may boost immunity.2
- In addition to carrying many varieties, it’s also impactful to offer different pack sizes—like bulk, 3-, 5-, and 10-pound bags—and value-adds—like microwave-ready potatoes—to meet consumers’ needs.
- Provide tips and ideas to help consumers make the best potato decision for their recipes, eating occasions, or cravings. For example, waxy potatoes are a great candidate for potato salad. Starchy potatoes, like the Russet or the Albert Bartlett™ Rooster, are perfect for making latkes or loaded potato skins. Small, thin-skinned potatoes are great for lobster boils.
I’ll be trying new recipes and varieties, and I hope you enjoy as many potatoes as possible this month, too—and all year long!
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