This article contains a research report covering the process of delivering the Potato Tracker consumer research reports as part of a levy investment project commissioned by Hort Innovation. To read the Potato Tracker consumer research reports, please click here.

The Australian fresh potato industry is experiencing a number of challenges, including a reduction in the number of growers, as well as a reduction in demand from Australian consumers. Understanding consumer needs, perceptions and attitudes can help identify opportunities and gaps in the market with the aim of providing targeted and actionable strategies for the future.

The fresh potato industry was interested to understand consumer perceptions over a 12 month period, as well as examine global potato trends including product launches with potato as an ingredient. A 12 month tracking project commenced in August 2014 with the aim to identify trends in purchase and consumption habits, identify perceptions of value, determine any changes in consumer behaviour including triggers, barriers and needs, summarise news and innovation from around the world and identify opportunities for the Australian market.

The target audience for the research was the Australian fresh potato industry as a whole, in particular growers, packers and retailers. These stakeholders have the greatest influence in implementing findings from this research. To meet the objectives of the industry, the research was designed to include 12 monthly online surveys of 300 potato consumers across Australia. An Interactive Research Tool (IRT) was set up to allow further analysis of the data at a granular level, specifically by month and to allow for analysis by consumer demographic profiles. Analysis of global new product development (NPD) launch trends was conducted on a quarterly basis.

The outputs from the project included Potato Tracker reports, publications and articles, the IRT and presentation workshops. The reports allowed for widespread distribution of the content, whilst workshops provided in-depth feedback on what stakeholders required out of the research. Each report was distributed to industry by AUSVEG in a monthly Potato Tracker email.

The findings from this research supported general perceptions that there is little growth in the fresh potato market, with the average purchase frequency of potatoes remaining stable across the 12 month period. Three key barriers were identified that were negatively impacting on the purchase of potatoes in Australia. These were diet and health concerns, a perception of limited meal occasions and a lack of potato variety knowledge (and therefore limited understanding of how to use/cook with different varieties of potatoes to increase consumption).