2020’s crop of potatoes in Manitoba, Canada look similar to last year’s crop.
“Supplies of fresh potatoes are about the same as last year which wasn’t a great year. In comparison to the last five years, it’s average but it’s a good quality crop,” says Larry McIntosh of Peak of the Market in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “We had the least amount of rain in the last five years so there were some drought conditions and unfortunately not all of our acreage is irrigated. Overall, the potato yields were affected.”
He does note that this year’s harvest though was fairly smooth, particularly when compared to last year. “Last year, we had a big snowstorm and the last bit of harvesting actually had to happen in snow,” says McIntosh. He also adds that the sizing of the potatoes is good with not too many small potatoes and not an abundance of large-sized ones either. “It’s a good-sized crop, especially on our yellows and reds which is what we grow the most of,” says McIntosh.
Consumers rediscovering potatoes
At the same time, demand for potatoes is strong. “Obviously, restaurants are not ordering a lot of potatoes and they’re going through a very tough time. But our retail grocery stores sales have picked up because people are eating at home more. To some degree, during the pandemic, people are rediscovering potatoes,” says McIntosh.
That said, he doesn’t anticipate sales to necessarily strengthen given the lockdowns that various parts of not only Manitoba but Canada are seeing. “I think compared to the beginning of the pandemic, people realize that the grocery stores will remain open and that they can go to the store or get groceries delivered. We haven’t seen the big spike in sales that we saw in March and there’s no reason to. We want people to buy potatoes as needed and don’t want to see food wasted either,” he says.
Meanwhile pricing for potatoes is even. “It’s come down from the spring because there are a lot of areas that have potatoes this year and it’s early into the season. It’s a good price but not as strong as it was earlier in the year,” says McIntosh.