Idaho potato growers weigh options for boosting fry profits

For the past several years, grower margins have consistently declined in Idaho to the point they are no longer sufficient to maintain a stable business environment for growers’ long-term financial future. For the four-year period including crop years 2014 through 2017, pricing has plummeted 7 percent (down 70 cents a cwt.) Processors use the bargaining group to set an advertised price and then present growers with different options to leverage an even cheaper raw product price. Some growers have been offered multiple-year contracts at a discounted price. Others, a joint venture where profits are split between the producer and the buyer. The question needs to be asked whether these multi-year contracts make sense for the grower and the industry as a whole given the current demand for frozen potato products from a domestic and global perspective. Where do these multi-year purchasing programs leave the potato industry in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest? More