Jersey’s new potato growers said this week that volume sales of Jersey Royals rose 15% this year on the back of intense advertising activity.
The island’s own television and press campaign was given a huge boost by TV commercials placed by Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and the Co-op, which all featured Jersey Royals.
Sainsbury’s ads, which featured celebrity chef Jamie Oliver enthusing about the potatoes, were given particular credit for fuelling sales.
However, unusually wintry weather in March and April delayed the beginning of the season by two weeks, which hit revenues for the whole season.
Tim Ward, sales manager at Jersey Royal Potato Marketing,
which produces and sells about 75% of the island’s new potato crop, said this year’s season had been “testing”.
He added: “Being two weeks late meant we missed the premium part of the season when the market is low volume but high value. This meant we went straight into the promotional window.”
Early forecasts suggest volumes lifted by Jersey Royal potato growers rose 23% from 30,000 to 37,000 tonnes. Ward said the crop quality “could have been better” but said that overall flavour had been good.
Appearance had been excellent, with potatoes’ skin finish brighter and cleaner than ever seen before. Because of the cold weather, tuber size had been small. But, said Ward, this was welcome. “These days our customers generally want smaller potatoes.”
The fresh season is tailing off, with most potatoes being harvested now destined for processing to be sold canned.
Small volumes of fresh are still available, mainly through Sainsbury and M&S.
Ward said: “By focusing on the Jersey Royal brand and its seasonality, the ads have really helped reinvigorate the potato.”
Richard Clarke