U.S. grocers charge up to 20 percent more for Idaho potatoes than for potatoes grown in other states, but industry officials say freight costs are keeping growers and shippers from realizing what they dub the "Idaho premium."
Through the Idaho Potato Commission, growers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually promoting their potatoes. Years of promotion, IPC officials say, has increased national demand for Idaho potatoes and created the premium.
IPC leaders believe their challenge is to find ways to bring the premium back to Idaho's potato industry.
Commission field representatives conducted a price audit early this summer in Baltimore, Nashville and throughout Oregon, based on Idaho growers' concerns that the premium may have been eroding.
"We still have a premium product. ... I think ours store better; I think ours taste better, and they have a better appeal to them," said Travis Blacker, executive director of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press