National potato supplies represent a challenge - The Packer

National potato supplies represent a challenge

09/07/2012 10:59:00 AM
Andy Nelson

The 2012-13 season promises big supplies of russets nationwide, a fact that San Luis Valley growers approach as a challenge and an opportunity.

David Tonso, a co-owner of Canon Potato Co., Center, Colo., said valley marketers will have to stay on their toes to move the 2012-13 crop.

“It’s going to be a difficult marketing season,” Tonso said. “There are going to be a lot of potatoes out there.”

The good news is that San Luis Valley and other regions are reporting good quality, Tonso said. That will make the industry’s job considerably easier.

“When you have a big pile, it’s nice to have good quality,” he said.

Trampas McCormick, manager of Worley & McCullough Inc., Monte Vista, Colo., is looking on the bright side heading into the 2012-13 season.

Yes, he says, there will likely be a lot of russets out there. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

“With the market the way it is, we see more opportunities,” McCormick said. “We’re looking to do some different things.”

Worley & McCullough and Wada Farms

One of those different things for Worley & McCullough this season is hooking up with spud giant Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho, McCormick said.

Wada will handle sales and marketing for Worley & McCullough in the 2012-13 season.

“We’re excited with the partnership,” McCormick said. “Wada has long legs and long arms across the country. They can really get us out there.”

Heat and drought slowed demand for russets this summer, McCormick said. But despite that market atmosphere heading into summer and fall harvests and the expectation of big volumes nationwide, McCormick said russets could regain a position in the marketplace shippers used to take for granted.

“With the forecast of supplies, potatoes have a good chance to get out there in the supermarket and be a staple again, unlike the past few years,” he said.

With other food costs going up, potatoes could become the go-to food for more consumers looking for value, he said.

“Potatoes could get everybody through,” he said. “The price may not be what we want, but there are still opportunities to do well in the market.”

Besides, McCormick said, challenges keep growers and marketers sharp.

“A smooth sea never made a good sailor.”

Sharpened marketing skills

Jed Ellithorpe, a partner and marketing director for Center, Colo.-based Aspen Produce LLC, is trying hard to take a glass-is-half-full approach to the upcoming marketing season.

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