North American potato growers have realized that they must take action to improve demand for fresh potatoes, says an industry spokesperson. Otherwise, American and Canadian growers will have to permanently cut acres to accommodate declining demand.
The situation is particularly acute this year because a glut of supply has pushed fresh potato prices below the cost of production, said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of United Potato Growers of Canada.
Canadian growers have received about $1.30 for a 10-pound bag of fresh potatoes over the last several months, which is down from the $1.80 to $1.90 per 10 lb. bag they re-ceived at the same time last year.
"You'd have to be getting $1.50 (per 10 lb.) just to meet the cost of production," MacIsaac said.
"Anything that is contracted is (priced) hopefully at a reasonable price that will allow growers to have some profit. Anything on the fresh (potato) market, in most areas across Canada, is selling below the cost of production."
He said the situation has forced producers to understand that they have to do something about falling demand.
"We've now come to the realization that there is a severe problem."
SOURCE: Robert Arnason, The Western Producer