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Red potato marketing could enjoy uptick in 2016

The overall mood of several Red River Valley red potato shippers reflected substantial disappointment with low prices as 2015 shipping drew to a close. However, streaks of optimism simmered based on several points.

These grower-shippers reported weeks ago that Quebec potato shippers were unloading large volumes into the East Coast markets that are critically important to North Dakota and Minnesota growers positioned along the Red River of the North.RRV-gradingRed potato grading in the Red River Valley is standard practice. This year the process has seen significant shrink because of growth cracks. Photo by Tad Thompson

A poor U.S. dollar exchange rate was encouraging the import of Canadian spuds.

Red potato competitors in Wisconsin tend to ship their crop early and a large volume of Badger State red potatoes was certainly significant in stocking U.S. retail shelves and restaurant plates.

Wisconsin shipments were slowing late in 2015 and indications were Quebec’s filling of the East Coast and Midwest markets were also decreasing.

Thus came hopes for improved prices as January rolled in.

Red River Valley packers were widely experiencing growth cracks. These are graded out, so the overall quality shipped is not affected. But lost potential fresh market sales prove a setback for these potato suppliers.

Lower packout reduces the total volume of the 2015 crop to be shipped. But entering 2016, there was still an abundance of Red River Valley red potatoes to be sold.

The Dec. 15 USDA Market News report for Red River Valley potatoes indicated that movement was expected to decrease slightly.

Trading was fairly slow and prices generally unchanged. Round Red U.S. One 50-pound cartons, size A, were mostly $8-$8.25. Size A Tote bags weighing approximately 2,000 pounds, were, per hundredweight mostly $10-$10.50.

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