Homegrown Goodness: For the love of potatoes

By: Potatoes South Africa on 23 October 2020

Homegrown Goodness: For the love of potatoes

Beyond versatility, potatoes also meet two of the eleven dietary guidelines aligned to healthy eating as stipulated by the Department of Health (DoH) namely making starchy foods part of all meals and eating plenty of fruit and vegetable every day. But it is taste and convenience that affirms potatoes as one of South Africa’s most loved staples, with a third of all potatoes produced found in the informal market.

“Potatoes contain macro- and micro-nutrients that contribute to optimal health and nutrition. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates – a function in providing and storing energy and building macromolecules for the body to perform at its peak in endurance activities. They are also versatile, tasty and good value for money,” says Immaculate Zinde, Marketing Manager at Potatoes South Africa.

Zinde says Potatoes South Africa commissioned a National Attitudes and Product Usage Study (NAPUS) in 2019 targeted at middle to upper-income groups. The study revealed that, when it comes to making food buying decisions, consumers look for items with a high ranking in taste;  convenience in preparation and consumption. These are some of the factors that have led  to  potato chips being ranked as South Africa’s number one potato dish.  

This affinity to potatoes can also be seen in the economic contributions made by potatoes. In 2017 the gross value of potatoes in South Africa was estimated at R6.13 billion.

“The supply chain and route to market of potatoes are moderately diversified with 47% of potatoes sold through the National Fresh Produce Markets. 66% of potatoes sold through National Fresh Produce Markets, are earmarked for the informal sector. Meanwhile 23% is mainly channelled through the formal (retail) sector and 6% of product going into processing, while 5% goes towards the export markets,” explains Zinde.

Through the Amazambane for Life campaign, Potatoes South Africa hopes to continue to provide strategic support services to a dynamic industry, thereby enhancing the sustainability of potato prouducers in South Africa whilst also solidifying the status of potatoes as the number one non-grain food in the world, and most certainly in South Africa. As the industry’s mouthpiece and association, Potatoes South Africa endeavours for the systematic development and environment-friendly outlook of the potato industry, including, inter alia, the preservation of the soil and water resources, the maintenance and improvement of the fertility of the land and improvement of production and marketing methods.

Zinde says one of the challenges potatoes must contend with is the ill-informed perceptions surrounding the vegetable.

“While the NAPUS revealed that 61% of the respondents, when asked what they disliked about potatoes, had nothing negative to say, the only concerns raised emanated from young people between the ages of 18-24, citing that potatoes are fattening; easily get spoiled/rotten, and the preparation and cooking process of potatoes is difficult and time-consuming.

“The potato industry has made strides in positively influencing attitudes and perceptions over the years. The marketing division of Potatoes South Africa remains relentless in its efforts to inform, educate and inspire South African youth about the versatile nature of potatoes as well as quick and healthy ways of preparing the number one vegetable in the world,” concludes Zinde