Potato industry mulls remedies to supply-demand imbalance

01/10/2013 09:51:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Consumers also seem to be moving to smaller packaging, with sales of 10- and 5-pound bags and bulk off significantly, he said. On the other hand, 1- to 4-pound-bags and 8-pound bags saw growth.

In a December meeting with Kroger Co., Ladhoff said company representatives told him the potato industry should focus on two areas: innovation and digital.

“The industry has been over-reliant on a single type of potato for a long period of time, and they, as retailers, want to embrace more opportunities,” he said about the Kroger feedback.

That means new and different potato varieties as well as convenience packaging, such as microwavable steamer pouches.

Digital media, such as quick-response codes and social media, makes information more accessible to consumers, Ladhoff said.

Cary Hoffman, CEO of MountainKing Potatoes, Monte Vista, Colo., compared the potato industry’s current situation to that of the U.S. auto industry the past decade.

Two of the Big Three companies continued to produce large pick-up trucks and SUVs because those were the vehicles that made them the most money. But they ignored consumers, who wanted more fuel-efficient vehicles.

As dealer lots filled with unsold cars, the industry resorted to deep discounts, attractive loans and other come-ons to move the vehicles.

“We have an advantage over the car companies,” Hoffman said. “We can turn this around faster starting now with what we intend to plant for 2013.”


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Nathan W Canaan    
Rhode Island  |  January, 19, 2013 at 05:46 AM

Interesting article, only problem is you have not addressed the real issue. RETAIL $$$. Potatoe prices have become a luxury in some chain pricing. Until you address the demand side[$$$], you will not get a consumer reaction on the supply side. That being said, when you have growers from one area of the country, come to another, that promote smaller crop plantings, and go back to the side of the country they are from, only to plant 40,000 more acres, do not be surprised you are in a situation as we are in.

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