Washington Potato Season Progressing Well

Published online: Feb 12, 2018 Articles Dennis M. Rettke
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Source: Fresh Plaza

Potato supplies out of Washington State are progressing normally. Most growers are finished with white varieties now, but all other varieties are still in good supply. Suppliers say the season is expected to continue as normal.

“Here in the Skagit Valley, producers still have good supplies of red, yellow, purple and fingerlings,” says Jack Wallace of G&D Wallace in Burlington, Wash. “Everyone has finished in the white varieties for this season. Expectations are for the season to continue into May, perhaps the end of May, beginning of June. We are seeing a typical season in terms of supply. It’s been a good season so far, and we have seen excellent quality.”


Freight Challenges Continue

As has been faced by many potato growers in different regions, Washington growers have also felt the effects of steep freight rates. Growers note that produce movement patterns have adjusted according to transportation.

“Problems did occur because of the trucking problems, which was the only issue to upset the ordinary balance of the season,” says Wallace. “It certainly affected product movement and gave more advantage to local producers. More customers have sought out produce from suppliers closer to them.”

Wallace feels the new e-log regulations have actually made things less safe for drivers and the general public and hopes that the government will rethink the legislation.

“It’s taken the flexibility away from drivers,” he says. “Whereas previously, they were able to pick and choose when they were on the road—for example, to rest as needed or to avoid high-traffic periods, now they must stay on the road or lose their hours. The result is that our already congested freeways are even more crowded with trucks during rush hour. Aside from the commercial effects on growers and truckers, it also has raised food prices for the customer. Hopefully the government will review the legislation and put in and amend areas where it’s clearly creating problems.”


Good Yellow Demand Continues

The strong demand that customers are having for yellow potato varieties continues. Growers have observed this trend and have adjusted volume to accommodate the demand.

“Demand continues to be strong on all varieties, but especially on the yellow potatoes,” says Wallace. “This is about as expected and has been on trend for the past few years.”

Wallace also says that despite different packaging options available, most customers are sticking to traditional designs that have been tried and tested. There is, however, a tendency toward smaller consumer pack sizes. “We always try to have different styles of packaging available; however, customers have largely stayed with traditional packaging,” he says. “There has been more interest in smaller-sized packs, including 1.5-, 3- and 5poudns, as opposed to sizes such as 10 and 15 pounds.”