Frozen potato products are in huge demand in the United Kingdom. According to a Statista report, last year British frozen potato market volume hit 1.4 million tons, of which 495,000 tons went to the in foodservice sector. Domestic production (UK for UK) accounted for 660 tons (47%), whereas 740 tons were imported to satisfy demand.
Data from Mintel shows an increase in value over the last year, with food price inflation playing a significant part. The value of frozen potato products came in at £993,962 for the 52-week period ending on June 11, 2023, compared to £818,567 during the same timeframe in 2022.
“Frozen potatoes are pure gold for foodservice. Ever versatile, they provide menu inspiration, customer satisfaction and a healthy profit margin,” said Pete Evans, Lamb Weston’s UK marketing manager. “And with the right product, they suit all skill levels in the kitchen.”
Brexit, the 2021 floods in Germany, labor shortages, inflation and the disruptive coronavirus pandemic were all contributory factors behind the potato shortage experienced two years ago.
Following these events, Agristo, the Belgian manufacturer of frozen fries and spud specialties that provides private label products to UK retail and foodservice channels, has succeeded in minimizing supply chain delays despite the new customs processes imposed on imports following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on January 31, 2020. The Harelbeke-headquartered company quickly showed its ability to adapt and overcome obstacles by moving to Delivered Duty Paid arrangements with clients in the UK, which is the manufacturer’s biggest market.
The move meant that Agristo took on the import and export administrative formalities, making sure that data input was “double filing” compliant, for both outbound flows from the European Union and deliveries into the United Kingdom. This hugely benefitted its British customers as it cut Brexit-related customs delays, as did the fact that Agristo has Authorized Economic Operator accreditation issued by the customs administrations in the European Union. This means the company is seen as a reliable partner to customs officials and enjoys benefits, such as 24/7 shipment times and less checks at border crossings.
Suppliers such as Lamb Weston, which sources spuds from farmers around the United Kingdom for transformation into french fries and other value-added potato products, do not have to worry about such issues.
“We are proud that our UK production accounts for a much higher percentage of our total volume in the United Kingdom, as we recognize the importance of native sourcing, both from an environmental perspective [reducing CO2 impacts from lower shipping and logistics costs] and also to support our growers. We work with a fantastic network of locally established growers, some of whom have been growing potatoes for us for over 30 years,” said Pete Evans, Lamb Weston’s UK marketing manager
This year’s British Frozen Food Awards competition organized by the British Frozen Food Federation engaged 14 consumer panels as well as a panel of professional chefs cooking and tasting entries to determine most innovative new products on the market.
The top three retail potato products were: Heron Foods’ The Best Buy Beef Dripping Triple Cooked Chips, which struck Gold; Crop’s Foods received Silver for its Cathedral City Cheesy Potato Dauphinoise; and Fullers Foods International took a Bronze award for its ASDA Hash Brown Stars.
In the foodservice category, Sysco’s Premium Coated Super Chunky Skin on Chips for Brakes won Gold; Aviko’s Super Crunch Pure and Rustic Chips garnered a Silver award; and Agristo’s Koffmann’s Potatoes for Chefs Les Grandes Frites XXL copped Bronze honors.
The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the trend for takeaway and home delivery of ready-to-eat food products, which has led to increased demand for fries with a thicker batter coating that helps retain heat and crispness longer than conventional fries and specialty offerings.
Lamb Weston’s latest potato innovation, REALLY Crunchy Fries, meets this need as they are promoted as having the “thickest coating on the market for superior crunchiness and heat holding for the ultimate eating experience.”
Marketing Manager Evans elaborated: “Created to satisfy growing demand for unique sensory dining experiences and sustainably minded, quality ingredients, these ground-breaking, artisan looking and tasting coated fries promise an unbeatable long-lasting crunch sensation that no other fry can rival. They are twice as crisp and crunchy as rival fries and hold their crunchiness for 30 minutes.”
According to Steenderen, Netherlands-headquartered Aviko, the most popular products on the British foodservice scene are coated straight-cut fries. They still dominate the market, with a sustained growth in skin-on products, which are seen as more artisanal. In fact, Toluna research shows that 65% of foodservice diners want rustic looking chips and are willing to pay a premium for them.
“There has never been a better time for chefs, caterers and operators to upgrade their offering to Aviko’s new SuperCrunch Pure and Rustic, the chip that combines a homemade feel with the taste and crunch of a proper chip,” said Mohammed Essa, the company’s UK and Ireland commercial director. “They’re made with superior spuds which lock in flavor for a delicious tasting chip. With the skin left on paired with irregular cut sizes, the chips have a rustic, natural look and unrivaled texture. These features combined make for a five-star chip that will add a premium feel to any dish.”
Aviko has been supplying the foodservice sector throughout much of the world with value added potato products for over 60 years. Its wide range of frozen and chilled potato specialties includes Hash Browns, SuperCrunch Fries, Mash, Snackables and much more.
Frozen potato products offer the foodservice sector further profits with simple upgrades such as seasonings and oils. From rosemary, peri, sriracha or harissa sea salt to truffle or chilli oil, operators can easily add value to their menu pleasers with ease and without the need to purchase multiple different ingredients. Naming the specific seasonings and toppings on menus will also fetch a higher prices.
“Convenience will be driving trends as our busy lives mean we look for good and easy products to cook,” says Rupert Ashby, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation. “However, at a time of high cost of living, frozen potato products also offer great food at great value prices. Consumers eat only use what they want, when they want. The rest can be stored for a long time and therefore do not go to waste.”