RPE's Randy Shell and Potandon's Ralph Schwartz Talk Tight Potato Market

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Fri. January 22nd, 2016 - by Jessica Donnel

IDAHO - Recent storms in Idaho paired with the holiday season made for less than optimal potato supplies out of the region, with higher pricing following.

Winter Storm Ferus as of December 23, 2015.

Both Winter Storm Echo (December 12-15) and Winter Storm Ferus (December 21-23) brought between 12 and 26 inches of snow, making it hard to run potatoes and beef up supplies, growers tell me.

Ralph Schwartz, Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Innovation, Potandon Produce

“The Idaho market did increase in the last few weeks of 2015,” said Ralph Schwartz, Potandon’s Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Innovation. “With the severe cold weather limiting production days, paired with the days the industry missed to run potatoes during the holidays, the short-term supply shortage drove markets up.”

This looks to be turning around as the region’s weather stabilized back to temperatures in the mid-30s to 40s, however. While Randy Shell, VP of Marketing for RPE tells me it's typical to see price increases on russets as we move towards spring and summer, he says the upcoming season may be different based on supply and demand.

Randy Shell, VP of Marketing, RPE“The potato market has been pretty steady in pricing since the beginning of the new crop,” Randy continued. “We have seen a slight increase in recent weeks due to good demand. Shippers will continue to evaluate their storages as the season progresses.”

For red and yellow potatoes, prices have also risen as the season has progressed and as supplies have wound down. Randy added, “Pricing on red and yellow potatoes generally move higher as storage crops begin to decline. This generally continues until summer's new crop arrives. Potatoes are still a great value and we anticipate to have ample supplies through the remainder of the storage crop. This is always subject to change based on demand.”

Potato Lovers Month

Demand for these varietal potatoes is also getting a boost for February’s “Potato Lovers Month,” which aims to boost Idaho potato sales with an annual display contest.

“Idaho potato demand is typically strong in mid-January as many retailers prepare for the annual Potato Lovers Month display contest that happens each February,” Ralph adds. “We are seeing very strong demand in early 2016 on all of our varietal potatoes, especially mini and petite sizes, which have been consumer favorites and have shown amazing growth within the category.”

Check back with AndNowUKnow for more on how the potato market will fare during the developing season.

RPE Potandon