Page 42 - December2018
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Potato & Onion Category Management
Despite their staple status, there are still pro ts to be made off vegetable-category leaders. BY KRISTI JOHNSON
Potatoes and onions, two of the highest-volume items in the produce department, are contin- ually well-performing destination categories.  ese two items have
other similarities that place them together in a category manager’s portfolio.
Although often merchandised in close proximity to each other because of their handling and storage needs, both lend them- selves to bulk displays with creative color changes and the introduction of di erent consumer packaging options. Both are preplanned consumer purchases, and both have historically healthy margins. With many of the large packer-shippers providing both potatoes and onions year-round, the logistics make sense for retail buyers to handle the buying and merchandising as a group.
Despite their consistent sales success, potatoes and onions can be overlooked as static categories that go on autopilot. However, with some additional focus, plan-
ning and category management techniques, potatoes and onions can see increased margin dollars year-round.
Although potatoes and onions are rarely bought on impulse, retailers and whole- salers agree they can bene t from year-round marketing. In-store advertising, utilization of social media platforms and other media chan- nels are keys to boosting sales.
According to Category Partners, LLC, sister company to Wada Farms, Idaho Falls, ID, potatoes continue to be a key produce sales driver, delivering the third-highest dollar sales per store across all vegetables, citing statistics from the 2016 FreshFacts on Retail, published by the Washington, D.C.- based United Fresh Produce Association and Chicago-based Nielsen Fresh. Not only are potatoes a ordable, but they also have some of the highest penetration of all vegetable groups in the produce department. Category
Partners reports that with just a mere 16 percent of retail potato volume coming from the holidays, it’s easy to see how some addi- tional love for potatoes can result in better volume and better margin dollars throughout the year. In addition, because both potatoes and onions end up on produce shoppers’ grocery lists, deep discounting leaves money on the table.
Jim Ehrlick, president of the Colorado Potato Administration, Greeley, CO, sees cross promotions as not particularly bene cial economically for retailers, and not particularly logical for consumers. “Potato and onion partnering at retail makes sense logistically, but not from an inspirational, meal-planning standpoint,” he says.
Seth Pemsler, vice president-retail/inter- national for the Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, ID, concurs. “Although the largest shippers provide both potatoes and onions, and retailers buy them together, they are not logical merchandising partners. You don’t

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