Although French fries are still responsible for the largest share of frozen processed potatoes in Eastern Europe, the category has seen many alternative launches over the last five years.
By Joana Sokolnik, research analyst at Euromonitor International
All the leading manufacturers have expanded their portfolios, not only with different types of French fries, but also adding products typical of Western countries, such as various types of spicy wedges, croquettes or mashed potatoes.
Innovation and trends
However, in spite of the constraints in the way of dynamic category development in Eastern Europe, the category is still registering a positive performance in most Eastern European countries. Innovation and an expanding product portfolio have been among the main factors positively impacting the sales of frozen processed potatoes – and will also continue to be very important for the future appeal of the category. Moreover, manufacturers are increasingly trying to match their products and promotions to consumer trends, paying significant attention to health and wellness.
Promising foodservice market
The consumer foodservice industry in Eastern Europe was estimated to be equivalent to more than EUR43bn in 2014. While it is significantly smaller than its Western European counterpart, it still has not reached its full capacity, therefore offering both current and future opportunities for various manufacturers and exporters, including frozen processed potatoes agents. Indeed, foodservice channels play a very important role within frozen processed potatoes, as more than two thirds (72%) of total volume sales of frozen processed potatoes is generated through foodservice in Eastern Europe, which is a significantly higher share than in Western Europe, where foodservice accounts for slightly more than half (54%) of total sales.
According to Euromonitor International, global retail value sales of frozen processed potatoes reached more than EUR6.7bn (current prices) in 2015, with 79% of this total accounted for by Western Europe and North America, while Eastern Europe was responsible only for a 3% share of total world sales. The disparity in sales of frozen potatoes is fairly well illustrated by the differences in per capita consumption indicators across the regions.
One of the main reasons for the still low popularity of frozen potatoes in Eastern Europe is the fact that consumers, especially those of the Central and Eastern part and not affected by Balkan cuisine, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Belarus and Russia, have a deeply rooted preference for fresh potatoes, often served boiled as a side dish.
The other unfavorable factor is the rather unhealthy image of the category. Health awareness has become an important trend in Eastern Europe and consumers are increasingly paying attention to what they eat, insisting on healthier foods.
You can read more in our print magazine Potato Processing International (Nov/Dec 2016)!