High prices on cartons of potatoes are killing me, what happened, versus last year at this same time?A:
It doesn’t always apply, but usually the laws of supply and demand have an effect on fresh produce pricing. Last year Idaho produced 8% more acreage than the year before. Nationally many growers rushed to get product to market, rather than incur the costs of putting their crop into storage (and incurring even more costs). The initial months after new harvest (usually August to October) the prices are very low, often below breakeven prices for potato growers.
Then something unusual happened at the end of the year. Some quality issues with stored potatoes not holding up as well as hoped caused a predicted pack out of No.1 potatoes to not grade as many as at the beginning of the crop year. This had the effect of tightening up the availability of Idaho® Russets at the same time as other states were running out of potatoes. Prices went up.
This year’s crop is back down in size, and while the prices are higher than last fall, potatoes are still an economical choice for your menu. While it’s important to look at the cost per carton, it is even more important to keep track of yields and the cost per potato.
The Idaho® Potato Commission “Size Guide” is an excellent resource, and it’s free. You can download the pdf or request a physical copy just by sending on your contact info and address.
Click on the following links to download: