PEMBROKESHIRE potatoes have helped a major supermarket increase its sales in Wales.

Since July 2017, Aldi and fresh produce company Puffin Produce have enjoyed a full range of Welsh potatoes including Maris Piper, baking and red potatoes.

Supermarket chiefs say the offer has generated an increase of 33 per cent in potato sales in four months.

Dedicated farmers deliver Welsh fresh produce – grown in Pembrokeshire and the Wye Valley – to the Puffin Produce headquarters in Haverfordwest, where it is quality checked, packed and sent for distribution to the Aldi stores throughout Wales.

Since 1995, Puffin Produce, a Pembrokeshire grower-owned business, has been supplying potatoes on a commercial scale to retailers and wholesalers throughout Wales, providing loyal Welsh shoppers with a range of quality Welsh fresh produce.

“We’re really proud to be supplying Aldi customers with quality Welsh produce grown and packed here in Wales,” explains Huw Thomas, managing director of Puffin Produce.

“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; it really does show the fierce loyalty of the Welsh consumer to the large Welsh flag on the bag.”

It’s not just Aldi and Puffin Produce that are feeling the benefits of the increase in sales, with Pembrokeshire potato farmers, such as Ian Elliot, seeing an increase in tonnage and having the opportunity to expand and grow their businesses.

Since 2016, Ian now grows an additional 1,600 tonnes of potatoes per year (a further 130 acres on his farm), and plans to expand further over the coming years, to meet the growing demand from Aldi’s 47 stores across Wales. With 11,000 additional tonnes of Welsh potatoes – worth around £5 million – ordered by Aldi for the 2017/18 potato season, Welsh farmers such as Ian can ensure the sustainability and longevity of one of Wales’ growing agricultural sectors.

It’s the loyalty of the Welsh consumer that farmers have to thank for the investment in their farming future. In a recent study by Food and Drink Wales, eight out of 10 shoppers 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, Welsh Government cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, 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.”

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.”