Supply chain delays from the pandemic, labor shortages and the rising minimum wage have all affected Maine businesses. As it costs farmers more to grow a crop, inflation is bound to hit grocery shelves as well. Aroostook County growers are also paying more for electricity to run things like environmentally controlled storage, and for diesel to ship products to market. Diesel is the backbone of expenses, because everything needs to be trucked somewhere, he said. Inflation and higher interest rates have driven his profit margin down, so it costs more to raise a crop.
Potatoes are Maine’s top food crop, with production valued at $247 million last year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2022 state report. Milk is second and blueberries third. In 2022, the state produced more than $1.8 billion pounds of potatoes.
For some, energy costs have increased about 35 percent to 40 percent in the past two years. These costs have to be passed on to consumers. Also, Maine’s minimum wage will go up from $13.80 to $14.15 in January. It isn’t possible to predict when or if potato prices will rise, but if the costs to produce them continue to rise it will surely affect consumers at some point.