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Q & A: Carton Prices for Fresh Idaho® Potatoes

Q: With all the doom and gloom about the economy, I noticed that carton prices on fresh Idaho® Potatoes are down substantially from last year.  What caused this?
A: When prices were high I dropped the size of my potatoes to keep menu pricing the same for my customers. Can I go back up this season? potato-blog No one can predict what happens with the supply and demand pricing model for potatoes, but I’ll tell you what I know about this year’s crop and let you decide what to do with your menu.  First off, in Idaho last year we had a period of time towards the end of the season when supplies were running low and most other states were out or finishing up marketing their crops.  While Idaho tries to have a year round supply for operators, such as yourself, it looked touch and go.  As a result, carton prices spiked.  This year, the prices are currently (always subject to change) about 1/3 to 1/2 the peak prices last year, so a terrific bargain.  As a former restaurant owner, I don’t think you could find a better value right now than to add potatoes to your menu or up size the ones you already have.  The food cost is terrific.  So, when your guests are looking for economical choices on the menu, why not feature a larger size and take advantage of the fact that potatoes are popular, are a hearty and filling menu item, and are very reasonable in food cost right now.  If you used to serve a 70 count, and over the years dropped back to an 80 or 90 count*, such as several budget steak chains and buffet concepts did, now is the time to surprise guests with a limited time offer “Steak House Baked Idaho® Potato with all the toppings” or even to add a baked potato as a side dish without an up charge (look at your food costs versus other sides and it can be done and still fall into the food cost guidelines).
*For an explanation on carton count sizes check out this link: http://idahopotato.com/foodservice/cost-and-size