North Carolina Potatoes Head To Fresh, Chipping Markets

Published online: Jul 06, 2020 Articles
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Source: Southeast Produce Weekly

North Carolina’s potato season is underway, with plenty of round white, red and yellow varieties for the fresh market, as well as potatoes for the chipping market.

“This looks like a good deal,” North Carolina Potato Association Adviser Tommy Fleetwood said on June 17, just a few days after harvest began.

Weather during the growing season was favorable, he said, although rain slowed some harvesting as the season got underway.

North Carolina potato growers, clustered on the eastern side of the state not far from the East Coast, supply fresh potatoes from mid-June through August, when other potato-growing regions aren’t quite ready to start their next season or have wrapped up shipping.

Thanks to their midsummer marketing window, North Carolina potatoes are shipped fresh and never spend time in storage.

North Carolina potatoes can go from field to grocery store shelf within two days, Fleetwood said.

He said the Elizabeth City, N.C.-based North Carolina Potato Association plans to keep using its “Your Summer Potatoes” and “Summer’s Best” marketing messaging for retail.

Chipping In

About 30 percent of North Carolina potatoes’ 16,000 planted acres go to the fresh market throughout the Eastern U.S. and into Canada, Fleetwood said, with the remaining 70 percent being chipping varieties.

Fleetwood said growers are shifting away from round white varieties as reds and yellows gain popularity.

The main chipping variety North Carolina shippers grow is the Atlantic variety, Fleetwood said, with names familiar to snackers everywhere — Frito-Lay, Utz and Wise — sourcing chipping potatoes from the region during the summer.

When Americans living in the eastern U.S. tore into a bag of potato chips on the Fourth of July, they were likely to be enjoying North Carolina potatoes, Fleetwood said.

Potato Pricing

On June 30, the USDA was reporting trading out of North Carolina’s Elizabeth City District was fairly active, with movement expected to remain about the same.

Prices for round red U.S. One 50-pound sacks of size A were $22.75, size B $20.50-24.75. Tote bags of approximately 2,000 pounds per hundredweight size A were $40-44.50, and size B were $48.50.

Round white U.S. One 50-pound sacks size A were $14.75, size B $14.75-16.75. Tote bags of approximately 2,000 pounds per hundredweight size A were $28.50.

Yellow type U.S. One 50-pound sacks size A were $26.75, size B $16-16.75. Tote bags of approximately 2,000 pounds per hundredweight size A ran $52.50-55.

For chipping potatoes, USDA reported in late June that movement was expected to remain about the same, with no f.o.b. prices being issued as of June 30.