Washington potato season progressing well

Potato supplies out of Washington state are progressing normally. Most growers are finished with white varieties now, but all other varieties are still in good supply. Suppliers said that the season is expected to continue as normal.

"Here in the Skagit Valley, producers still have good supplies of red, yellow, purple and fingerlings," said Jack Wallace of G&D Wallace. "Everyone has finished in the white varieties for this season. Expectations are for the season to continue into May, perhaps the end of May, beginning of June. We are seeing a typical season in terms of supply. It's been a good season so far and we have seen excellent quality."

Freight the only stumbling block in season
As has been faced by many potato growers in different regions, Washington growers have also felt the effects of steep freight rates. Growers noted that produce movement patterns have adjusted according to transportation. "Problems did occur because of the trucking problems which was the only issue to upset the ordinary balance of the season," Wallace said. "It certainly affected product movement and gave more advantage to local producers. More customers have sought out produce from suppliers closer to them."

Wallace feels the new E-Log regulations have actually made things less safe for drivers and the general public and hopes that the government will rethink the legislation. "It's taken the flexibility away from drivers," he said. "Whereas previously, they were able to pick and choose when they were on the road, for example to rest as needed or to avoid high traffic periods, now they must stay on the road or lose their hours. The result is that our already congested freeways are even more crowded with trucks during rush hour. Aside from the commercial effects on growers and truckers, it also has raised prices food prices for the customer. Hopefully the government will review the legislation and put in and amend areas where it's clearly creating problems."

Good demand on yellow potatoes continues
The strong demand that customers are having for the yellow potato varieties continues. Growers have observed this trend and have now adjusted volume to accommodate the demand. "Demand continues to be strong on all varieties, but especially on the yellow potatoes," Wallace continued. "This is about as expected and has been on trend for the past few years."

Wallace also noted that despite different packaging options available, most customers are sticking to traditional designs that have been tried and tested. There is, however, a tendency towards smaller consumer pack sizes. "We always try to have different styles of packaging available, however customers have largely stayed with traditional packaging," he said. "There has been more interest in smaller size packs, including 1.5lb, 3lb and 5lb, as opposed to sizes such as 10lb and 15lbs."

For more information:
Jack Wallace
G&D Wallace, Inc
Tel: +1 (360) 757-0981

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