Maine Potatoes Seeing Resurgence

Published online: Mar 28, 2022 Articles Dan Lampariello
Viewed 1251 time(s)
Source: FOX23

Maine is often known for lobster, but another product is starting to get its moment back in the spotlight: the mighty Maine potato.

Potatoes from Maine are often overlooked by bigger names grown in other parts of the country, but this year, the popularity of the state's spud is spiking.

"It's one of those situations where the planets lined up," Maine Potato Board executive director Don Flannery said.

The crown jewel of the Crown of Maine has been a hot commodity for generation, but only just recently have they gained national recognition.

The tables turned during the 2021 potato harvest, when major potato-producing states like Idaho and Washington saw a nearly 9 percent decline in their yield due to extreme heat and drought. In contrast, Maine growers saw yields rise upwards of 30 percent, leading the state to ship potatoes cross-country to try and fill in the gap.

"We had a big crop but Mother Nature was not kind to them," Flannery said. "So there was a need for those potatoes in the West and our guys worked pretty hard and put it all together."

For the first time in at least 40 years, Maine potatoes were actually loaded on to trains in Aroostook County and shipped by rail across the country to fulfill demand.

And while things may even back out during the next season, growers believe Maine still has momentum for growth, especially in New England.

"Maybe there's more opportunity for rail in the future, not necessarily going to the West, but maybe to the East Coast markets," Flannery said. "People are paying more attention to where their food is coming from and if they can source it closer to home, I think that's one reason why you're seeing us garnish a little more market share in some of these things."

Just recently, the New England chain 99 Restaurants announced all of their French fries would be made exclusively with Maine-grown potatoes, putting the state's spuds one step closer to becoming an even bigger household name.

"I think we're doing the right things," Flannery said. "I know our growers are working really hard to try and do everything right."