In a rare turnaround for the Pacific Northwest potato industry, it appears the price of off-grade potatoes has risen to the point flake manufacturers are having a hard time making money.
At least one southern Idaho flake processor has shut down for various time periods while trying to find off-grade potatoes from fresh-pack operators. The price, which has been running from $3-5/cwt has made it hard for the flake processors to make money at the present flake market price.
The flake processors have generally bought fresh-pack off-grade in the $1-2 range. To have to pay in the $3-5 range has caused shut downs and off-and-on-again plant shutdowns and worker layoffs.
Many flake processors have signed contracts for their off-grade potatoes in advance of their processing campaigns. This has helped them through this year when potato prices are high because of lower production.