Aldi’s potato sales in Wales have risen by a third since the retailer began sales of Welsh potatoes five months ago, highlighting the popularity of homegrown produce in the country.
The discounter began stocking Welsh-grown potatoes in July 2017, thanks in part to a £4.8 million government support package adopted in 2015, which allowed producers to expand their production.
This has helped generate a 33 per cent increase in Aldi's potato sales, and the supermarket has ordered an additional 11,000 tonnes of Welsh potatoes, worth around £5 million, for the 2017/18 season.
Puffin Produce supplies the supermarket with Maris Piper, baking and red potatoes, which are grown in Pembrokeshire and the Wye Valley, and are checked, packed and distributed from its headquarters in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
The grower-owned business has been supplying potatoes on a commercial scale to retailers and wholesalers in Wales since 1995.
“It is amazing that Aldi is able to see an immediate uplift of 33 per cent within their potato category in Wales by providing a Welsh offering,” said Huw Thomas, managing director of Puffin Produce. “It really does show the fierce loyalty of the Welsh consumer to the large Welsh flag on the bag.”
The increase in sales has benefitted Puffin Produce’s growers, with Pembrokeshire potato farmers, such as Ian Elliot, increasing their tonnage and expanding their businesses.
Elliot now grows an additional 1,600 tonnes of potatoes per year and has added 130 acres to his farm. In the coming years he plans to expand further to meet the growing demand for Welsh potatoes from Aldi’s 47 Welsh stores.
In a 2017 study by Food and Drink Wales, eight out of ten shoppers said they would always buy Welsh if the price was right, with 44 per cent saying they would pay more for Welsh food and drink.
Commenting on the partnership, Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh government's energy, planning and rural affairs secretary, said: “It is encouraging to see our support packages such as the Food Business Investment Scheme can assist producers to expand and grow, which is our aim as a government.
“It’s also pleasing to see Aldi’s pledge to support Welsh agriculture and the confidence placed in our industry, alongside Welsh customers’ continued enthusiasm for home-grown food.”
The project received total funding of £4.8m from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh government through the Food Business Investment Scheme.
Julie Ashfield, managing director of buying at Aldi UK said: “Our potatoes are clearly labelled to let customers know they are supporting a Welsh farmer when they purchase these products.
“Our partnership with Puffin Produce has gone from strength to strength and shows the passion our customers have for supporting the Welsh farmers.”