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Movement faster on Idaho potatoes but pricing still weaker

There's still a fairly large supply of potatoes coming out of Idaho for this time of year. "We should have storage crop through mid-August," says Ryan Wahlen of Pleasant Valley Potato adding that that's one to two weeks longer compared to when its storage crop would normally finish.

As for demand, it's good and the shipping pace has been faster this year. "We have moved a lot more potatoes every week than we did last year or the year before. It's comparable to what we saw in 2021," says Wahlen.

That said, the movement might be improved on potatoes if retailers adjusted pricing given the market conditions. "Most of them have adjusted their prices somewhat, but given our FOB prices, their adjustments don't necessarily reflect the difference in the FOB price relative to last year," he says.

The value of potatoes
Given the challenging state of the economy right now though, people are also cooking at home more which can also help with demand for potatoes. "We're not happy about the poor economy, but the silver lining is that there will be more potatoes consumed because they are a better value proposition," says Wahlen.

Particularly so given potato pricing is quite low–night and day compared to last year at this time which saw higher pricing on a crop with lower supply. "Grower returns are lower than the cost of production right now. The growers, thankfully, had a good year last year because, otherwise, a year like this one would put some of them out of business–and it may yet," says Wahlen.

Pricing is anticipated to strengthen somewhat though as the summer comes on. "There are still some Norkotahs being packed that have a higher pack-out than Burbanks. Once everybody is into their Burbank crop exclusively, we should see prices increase because the pack-out percentage will drop. Packers will have to run more potatoes to get the same production."

Looking ahead, planting for the 2024-2025 Idaho crop is just finishing up which is slightly earlier this year. Early reports indicate that 25,000-30,000 fewer acres will be planted this season.

For more information:
Ryan Wahlen
Pleasant Valley Potato
Tel: +1 (208) 397-4194
[email protected]