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North Dakota supplies affected by storm damage

Limited supplies of yellow, red and white potatoes

“When it comes to russet potatoes, product is moving and the market has recently been stable on their pricing,” says Ken Gad of South Easton, MA-based Cambridge Farms Inc. 

However when it comes to other variety of quality potatoes—think yellows, reds and whites for example—supplies haven’t been as ample. “We don’t have the amount of quality reds that we’d like to have and that’s why the market has stayed strong. We’re not in a shortage yet and a lot of people would like to believe it’s a fictitious shortage, but I think we’re going to run out of anything of quality by late March or early April,” he says. Notably, North Dakota, a common source of red potatoes, lost a percentage of its crop to storm damage which in turn affected supply. 

White potatoes almost specialty item
Yellow potatoes have a similar problem. “Finding quality yellows right now is not easy,” says Gad. “If you have an exceptionally stringent guideline to follow, you’re going to pay an exorbitant amount of money to get them. There’s a lot of common quality on the yellows,” he says. In turn, white potatoes have almost become a specialty item. “You can’t find enough good whites, period. I know most of them are sold on the east coast but we barely have enough to keep ourselves in line on the east coast and that’s shocking, but that’s where it’s gone to.”

24 oz. instead of 5 lb. package
As Gad notes, many of today’s supermarket store shelves stock anywhere from 15-20 potato purchasing options. “Today you can pick up a white, a russet, a red, a yellow, bagged or loose. Steamables, creamers, fingerlings,” he says. “Ten years ago, you picked up a five lb. white or red or russet and that’s what you had. Now we’re replacing a five lb. unit for $2.49 with a 24 oz package at $3.99. We’re putting more on the market of what we grew and feeding it to the country in smaller amounts. The budget for potatoes is shot at 24 oz! The marketing can go that way but our tonnage production better change.”

Photo: Packaging facility of Atlantic Potato Distributors, a packaging partner of Cambridge Farms. 

For more information:
Ken Gad
Cambridge Farms Inc. 
Tel: 508-297-2630