Farm Journal Live: Restaurant Closures Put Squeeze on Potato Growers

10:16AM Apr 27, 2020
fjlive-april27-basse-voigt.png
Farm Journal Live
( Farm Journal )

 

 

As stay at home orders have kept customers at home, potato consumption has fallen dramatically, leaving a glut of spuds.

Restaurant business has fallen an estimated 70% according to Chris Voigt of the Washington State Potato Commission. Those restaurants were responsible for 95% of fresh dry potato consumption, he said.

"Right now we estimate that we're going to have anywhere between one and one and a half billion pounds of potatoes that aren't going to be used by the processors before the new crop comes on," Voigt told Farm Journal Live. "So, it's got a devastating impact right now, and how do you how do you even get rid of a billion and a half pounds of potatoes? I mean, that's a real challenge."

Most potatoes are sold on contract, so there has not been dramatic price loss, according to Voigt, but he says processors have been rapidly pulling back those contracts.

"It used to be you could almost set your watch to how many potatoes this country was going to need every week of the year, but that's all thrown out the window," Voigt said. "We don't even know how much to plant, and so, unfortunately, a lot of our growers have actually already finished planting their entire crop of what they were told to, and now the processors have come back and cut anywhere from 10 to 100% for some of these growers. So devastating, the impact to our farmers."

Watch the complete analysis in the recording of Monday's Farm Journal Live in the player above.

Farm Journal Live, hosted by Farm Journal Editor Clinton Griffiths, is streamed weekdays at noon Central on AgWeb.com.