For the future, many San Luis companies have their sights set on the increase in demand for export shipments from this region, particularly with shipments to Mexico.

“We’re hoping to expand in that region a little more with the border opened,” said Les Alderete, general manager, Skyline Potato Co., Center, Colo.

Chris Wada, marketing director for Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho, said this growth potential is yet to be determined.

“A lot of this depends on the outcome with Mexico and their ability to ship beyond the 26-kilometer zone in the near or distant future,” he said.

Jed Ellithorpe, a partner in Aspen Produce LLC, Center, has seen strong export demand over the past few seasons.

“Something that is helping our retail sales is the increase in exports that are for retail, particularly to Mexico,” he said.

“We’ve tried really hard on the farm side to ensure good supplies for our Mexican trading partners,” Ellithorpe said.

In addition to exports, San Luis shippers say the region’s potato crop fills an important segment of national potato supply.

Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee said the majority of potatoes grown in the area are shipped to the eastern and southern states.

“We plan to ship more potatoes this year, and to continue to serve our customers in the southeastern markets,” Alderete said.

“Geographically, it just makes sense,” he said. “We have a competitive freight advantage over the Pacific Northwest.”

Ehrlich said the region’s main competition comes from Wisconsin.

Others agree the region’s location allows for some specific market share.

“This region provides distinct opportunities that allow increased supply options to meet our various retail, foodservice and wholesale distributor needs,” Wada said.

Because of those market trends, Wada sees the region as an important location in the potato industry, despite geographic limitations when compared to other growing regions.

“While concerns over land and water may limit exponential growth in this region, the San Luis Valley will continue growing and shipping potatoes for many years to come,” he said.