In its July board of directors meeting, United Potato Growers of America announced that both fall and annual potato acreage is virtually unchanged from last year. This assessment is based upon data from the United States Department of Agriculture as well as the direct counting done by United chapters in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
"United is pleased that growers heeded the call to plant for expected demand rather than basing their decisions on what the price was for potatoes several months ago," said Lee Frankel, United president and chief executive officer. "United appreciates the strong efforts of the United co-op leaders and members to communicate to growers throughout the country about appropriate planting levels."
Frankel and the board of directors believe that current acreage levels provide potato growers in most areas an opportunity to achieve another year of profitability. Cautions Frankel, "It is still too early to know how the current fall crop will mature and produce. Growers should be aware that the work for the marketing of this crop is just beginning."
United advises growers to actively manage the flow to the market to ensure sustainable profitability. United members should stay involved with United for updated fall crop reports so they can understand how growing conditions may produce more potatoes in total or more of a particular size profile or fewer potatoes than expected with each situation requiring more active, strategic crop management.
Based on preliminary Nielsen data provided by the Perishables Group, the volume of fresh potatoes through traditional retail outlets -- excluding club stores, Walmart and convenience and small stores -- has increased in April and May of 2009 compared to last year. "This uptick in retail activity is another potential indicator that supply and demand have a good potential to be in balance at levels fair for consumers, retailers and growers," said Frankel.
Beginning in the fall of 2008 United and its member co-ops conducted communication and education campaigns to inform potato growers of its acreage recommendations for the 2009 crop. A critical portion of the efforts were conducted at the United Potato Partners seminars that are held each year in major potato growing areas.