Although fresh potato consumption continues to fall in European countries, the flagship ‘Princesa Amandine’ is still following its own particular path. “It is true that fresh potato consumption is dropping in households, but our project is very young and our brand is expanding rapidly,” explains Jean Michel Beranger, the Manager of the brand.
Princesa Amandine will bring 7,000 tonnes to this campaign, meaning a 40% growth compared to the figures for the previous year, which reached 5,000 tonnes. However, in a general context of product shortage, the provisioning difficulties have also affected the group, which will have to interrupt its supply for a few weeks due to a lack of potatoes in the fields. “At the moment, the demand for Princesa Amandine is greater than the offer, and there is a shortage of stock due to the decrease in the harvest, particularly because Amandine only comes from one Germicopa variety. Working with a single variety gives us uniformity and the same flavour all year long, but it can also mean a disadvantage, such as the one mentioned above. This does not normally happen, because operators work with many varieties and, if there is a shortage with one, there is always another variety to use.”
To prevent this situation, the European association is now carrying out the first trials of Princesa Amandine in Israel and, chances are, there will soon be newly harvested potatoes from that country.
In Spain, the brand has its own productions through companies in the group (Udapa, Ibérica de Patatas, El Zamorano and the Portuguese company Campotec) in the different Spanish producing regions: from Castilla y León to Seville, Almería, Cartagena or Álava, which is the latest incorporation. With this varied geographical distribution, plus France and Israel, the presence of Princesa Amandine is guaranteed, as long as there are no production problems, on supermarket shelves with fresh potatoes throughout the year.
Furthermore, and for the first time, one of the group’s most ambitious projects was started last year: supplying new potatoes to its French associates during the month of June, when there is no production in the neighbouring country.
The family is growing
Currently the potato is available in different formats: the classic 1.5 kg bag with 46-65 mm calibre potatoes; the microwave format, Princesa Amandine Micro, of 400gr, containing 35-45 mm calibre; and the most recent arrival, ready-cooked potatoes with Provencal herbs. For cash and carry centres, there is a 6 kg box format.
“Our family is growing and we believe that we have a different format for each type of consumer. For example, the ready-cooked potato is not a mass product; it is rather a complement which provides solutions for a consumer who does not purchase very often, as the product has an expiry date of 45 days in the fridge,” Beranger comments.
A good level of acceptance in the distribution channels
Princesa Amandine potatoes can be acquired in the main Spanish national distribution chains, such as: Alcampo, Ahorramás, Eroski, Carrefour, El Corte Inglés, DIA and Lidl. They are also available in other regional establishments such as Consum (Catalonia), Lupa (Cantabria, Castilla y León and La Rioja), Sanchez Romero or Masymas (Asturias and León). “At this moment, we have Catalonia in our sights, where there are important Catalan brands.”
A collaborative project
From the business culture point of view, Amandine is a very good example within the sector because it is based on the collaboration and joint work of four companies, which could easily be competitors and, by contrast, have joined together to pool their efforts. One of the many advantages of this association is a greater availability of economic resources to finance promotion and investment. In this way, they have budgeted around 400,000 euros for the different advertising campaigns, including commercials on the Cuatro television channel. Furthermore, a real commitment has been made to digital supports and social media.
For the second year running, the company has received the prestigious ‘Flavour of the Year’ award for three references (fresh, microwavable and cooked potatoes).
On a different tack, an important collaboration study is being carried out with important executives from the distribution, such as Xavier Cross or Jesús Alonso, to get to know consumers better and, in this way, bring and share knowledge with clients. “It is a more complete formula, aimed at helping to manage the category.”