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US: 2012 potato volume expected higher, prices lower

According to the latest Vegetables and Pulses Outlook report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, the national 2012 potato crop is expected to be larger than the previous season's crop. With increased production, however, prices for fresh potatoes will be lower.

2011's potato production of 429.6 million cwt is expected to grow by seven percent this year to a final figure of 459.0 million cwt. That's largely due to a 5.4 percent increase in acreage planted and a 1.4 percent bump in yield.

Increased production is also expected to lead to bigger sales. According to the report, based on last year's sales numbers and anticipated production for 2012, the upcoming season should bring an overall gain of 6 percent in sales for all potatoes and a 6.5 percent rise in sales of fresh potatoes.

But those extra potatoes will likely command a lower price than last year's crop. Because of higher production this year, prices for table potatoes have been lower than last season. Shipments of fresh potatoes from January through July have been up 7.5 percent, and that's led to prices that have been, on average, $2.75 lower per cwt than prices last year. With larger volumes expected this year, that trend of lower prices is expected to continue throughout 2012.

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