NW Crop Continues to Move at Even Pace

Published online: Jun 21, 2019 Articles
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Source: Fresh Plaza

Potato grower-shippers from the Northwest are still working out of storage crop with good supplies.

“Russet potatoes from Idaho, Oregon and Washington are going to run right into the new crop potato so there won’t be any gaps,” says Jack Salemme of Northwest Growers Marketing Inc. in Pasco, Wash. “It pretty well matches what we saw at this time last year.”

He also adds that all sizes are pretty much available. “However the market’s going to reflect anything that’s a little bit tighter. The larger count cartons—so the 40-, 50- and 60-count—they’ve crept up considerably and I think we’ll see some of the other ones pull right along with them—the 70s and 80s,” Salemme says. “There’s always good demand on the small ones because the price is less.”

Even Potato Demand 

In fact, demand is equally good going into the summer season. “There’s a consistent demand. There’s a lot of contract demand in the foodservice industry of course for French fries and things like that,” Salemme says. “And there’s also demand on the colored potatoes coming from the foodservice industry where you want to see the red skin for example. The Yukon Golds are also starting to become more popular as well.”

That said, pricing is consistent with what was seen last year at this time. “A lot of this has to do with contracting. With the amount of contracting in the potato business, that price becomes fixed so you don’t see a lot of wiggle in potatoes anymore,” he says. “You won’t see much unless there’s a crop failure somewhere that’s detrimental to the entire industry.”

New Crop Insights 

Looking ahead, Salemme says that the crop from Bakersfield, Ca. is kicking off about now and their acreage is down considerably on all potatoes including Russets, Reds and Yukon Golds. “I don’t know that we’ll see a comeback down there. It’s become a little too water intensive, labor intensive and the yields and window they get is just not paying off,” he says. “I don’t know what we’re going to see in the future but the acreage is definitely not there.” 

At the same time, planting in the Northwest is slightly behind by between 10-15 days. “We had quite the winter and a long, wet spring so a lot of the fields didn’t get planted until late. On potatoes overall, I think everyone’s a little bit behind but we always catch up. We start getting the heat during the day and they’re off and running,” Salemme says, adding that he does think there will be overall more colored potatoes planted this season as well as a push on smaller and little potatoes.