Australian consumers’ insights into potatoes

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 A research report out of the FOODplus Research Centre at the University of Adelaide looks into Australian consumers’ perceptions of potatoes and how these are affecting consumption…

Background: There has been a decline in the consumption of potatoes in developed countries worldwide due to many factors including the introduction of new foods and meal trends. In turn, this shift in eating patterns has dramatically affected the Australian potato industry which represents the largest horticulture contributor to gross food revenue. Many factors may influence consumers’ food preferences, including the individual’s nutrition knowledge, lifestyle factors, personal preferences, attitudes and beliefs. The present study aimed to capture an understanding of the consumer’s level of nutritional knowledge and what currently drives consumer decision making.

Methods: Participants aged between 25 and 54 years responded to an online survey which included 52 questions specifically looking at potatoes, nutritional knowledge, views, eating habits and lifestyle factors, preferences and beliefs. Questions in the survey included multiple choice, rank and scale responses and free answers.

Results: A total of 1208 males and females (males n . 598, females n . 610) were included in the final analysis. The results show that the majority (88.5%) of the participants consume potatoes (not including hot chips/french fries) 4 times per week or less (41.6% 1 week; 46.9% 2e4 times/week). Overall, 33% of the participants stated that their potato consumption over the last five years had decreased. The main reasons stated for this decrease were that potatoes were high in carbohydrates (30%) and that starchy vegetables were not a healthy option (23%).

Conclusions: Results showed that consumers believe that potatoes are good for all ages, are versatile, convenient, good value for money and delicious. However, the results indicate the majority of people have limited knowledge regarding the nutrient composition of potatoes and associate them negatively with carbohydrates.