Idaho Russet potatoes are going to be short until the new crop comes in late summer.
“Part of this is because there’s really good demand from the dehydration and frozen sector and they’re dipping into potatoes that normally go into the fresh market,” says Kent Sutton at Rexburg, Id.-based Bench Mark Potato Co. Inc.
And while last fall Idaho fared with a relatively normal crop, Sutton notes that approximately 10,000 acres of potatoes suffered frost damage and weren’t suitable for the fresh market.
“They wouldn’t store so they’re pushed into the dehydration market and that effectively removed an awful lot of potatoes that would normally be in the fresh market channel,” he says.
At the same time, demand for potatoes has stayed steady. “The only time demand softened is when the East and Midwest experienced brutal winter conditions and people just didn’t go out,” he says. “We also had a few transportation issues where the interstates were closed due to bad weather. Overall we’ve just lost a bit of movement due to inclement weather.”