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Crop is average to short
US: Christmas date could affect movement of holiday staples like potatoesPotato movements in the U.S. are progressing at a moderate to average rate.
“We’re kind of taking the view that there’s an average to short crop, depending on where in the country you are, and quietly making it into a long crop,” says Ken Gad of South Easton, MA-based Cambridge Farms Inc.
Certain items have been moving very well. “The red and yellow potatoes from North Dakota have been moving very very well. The Russets are moving but I’d say they’re behind,” says Gad. “Maine has a very small crop and isn’t moving as rapidly as they normally would. Long Island which normally we’d have growers cleaned up by now, still has growers who are behind. I see a crop that was average to a little below average in tonnage at this point not moving it as quickly as we need to.”
The lower crop numbers are due to a number of weather issues. “We had drought issues in some areas, we had late planting due to weather in the spring and then because of the drier conditions, we had the growers waiting longer trying to let the crop die naturally and size up and some just didn’t size up,” says Gad.
Affected shelf space
Meanwhile the bigger demand picture for potatoes, which are moving at prices Gad characterizes as average, continues to change. “So while we’re putting in the same acreage and getting better tonnage, in the stores, 10 years ago you would have seen a shelf full of 5 and 10 lb. bags of potatoes, one of each type and some loose potatoes. Now you can buy a potato 16-18 different ways in the same 12 feet of space. We’ve sliced the pie smaller for each shipping region.”
In the short term, where Christmas lands this year is also changing demand slightly believes Gad. Typically shoppers may stock up on staple items such as potatoes a few weeks ahead of time, then possibly consume that stock and purchase more potatoes closer to the actual Christmas date. “But stores don’t need that holiday build up because Christmas is falling on a Monday. Shoppers have a whole weekend to shop so I think movement will be delayed and cause some issues. It’ll cause more back up of product that didn’t go off the shelves early.”
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Cambridge Farms Inc.
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