Published online: Dec 09, 2010 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting
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Supply issues around the globe should help U.S. fresh potato exports remain strong and create opportunities for the industry. But the real buzz in the potato world is where hard-hit Russia will source potatoes to make up for its disastrous crop year.

Between drought and forest fires, Russia had a terrible summer, said John Toaspern, vice president of international marketing for the U.S. Potato Board, Denver.

"We know it's a short-term deal, but the fact is Russia is desperate," said Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail and international for the Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle. At the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit in October, Pemsler said he met with eight Russian companies looking to buy mass quantities of U.S. potatoes. A few weeks later, he said, there was already a container on the water.

Lee Frankel, president and chief executive officer of the United Potato Growers of America, Salt Lake City, said it will be up to the markets and transportation lanes to determine what happens next.

"It will also depend on who's willing to to take risks in terms of extending credit and finding buyers who will pay cash on f.o.b. acceptance at a Canadian or U.S. port," he said. "At this point, I don't think there are a lot of firm deals."

-Source, The Packer