Bigger potatoes may be in short supply

11/04/2011 09:55:00 AM
Ashley Bentley

Richard Medina, vice president of Superior Tomato-Avocado, which brings in potatoes and onions out of Idaho and the Northwest, said he doesn’t expect markets for either commodity to stay too low too long.

“Retail takes advantage of the weak market, so we’re seeing a lot of ads on the retail side,” Medina said. “Retail looks for the value for the customer. And as the weather gets colder, they’ll sell a lot more potatoes and a lot more onions.”

Medina said retailers are looking to put 5-, 10-, 15- and even 20-pound bags on ad.

“At the beginning of the season it was a challenge to get movement due to high markets through the summer and early fall because of the short supply of potatoes,” said Dolan of Associated Potato Growers. “We needed to get rates back at a level where movement would increase.”

Rexburg, Idaho-based Wilcox Fresh grows 3,600 acres of potatoes in Idaho, and has come out with potatoes on the larger end this year, said Jim Richter, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Although the company was late planting in the spring because of the cold spring, nice weather in September helped the crop size up, Richter said.

“The crop is going to be larger than we initially expected, “Richter said. “It’s going to be a good year to promote larger-sized potatoes.”

The company plans to aggressively promote larger potatoes, including in bags.

“What we believe will happen in Idaho in general is larger-size potatoes will be at the front of promotions for holiday periods,” Richter said. “It’s a lot easier to peel 70-count potatoes for your mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.”

New crop prices have dropped, but most retail prices have not dropped as fast as f.o.b.s as retailers try to recapture some margin, said Mac Johnson, president of Denver-based Category Partners, a retail marketing firm that is owned by Farm Fresh Direct LLC, Monte Vista, Colo., and Wada Farms, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Johnson said consumers reacted to the high market for potatoes by trading down to more affordable packaging sizes or delaying their purchase waiting for a promotion.

 

Prices

  • Out of Idaho, baled five 10-pound film bags nonsize A U.S. 1 (2-inch or 4-ounce minimum) burbanks brought $6.50-7 in early November.
  • Out of San Luis, Colo., baled five 10-pound film bags nonsize A U.S. 1 nokotahs brought $7.50-8.
  • Out of the Red River Valley, five 10-pound baled film bags of size A round red U.S. 1 brought $12 in early November and 50-pound sacks size A brought $11.


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