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Idaho potatoes’ dominance in charts

All apologies to Forrest Gump’s momma, but if life were like a bag of Idaho potatoes, we would always know what we were going to get.

While the state slogan may be “Let it be Perpetual”, an argument could be made for a change to “Let it be Potatoes”. In the world of potatoes, there is Idaho, Idaho, Idaho, and everyone else. 2020 is proving no different as the volume Idaho has produced, topped 2 billion pounds year-to-date.

Blue Book has teamed with Agtools Inc., the data analytic service for the produce industry, to look at a handful of crops and how they’re adjusting in the market during the pandemic.

Even down a little compared to 2019, Idaho potato volume makes up just over 37 percent of the total volume in the US.

Looking at the last three years, overall volume is up 3 percent vs. 2019 and on pace with 2018. Volume took off around the time of the pandemic and remained strong, helping the overall volume numbers. Looking further into the impact of the pandemic, we see another interesting trend in the increasing amount of product going to the chipper.

With Idaho making up a third of the category, we dug into 52-week shipping F.O.B. numbers by size to show the highs and lows over the last year. In a matter of a month, we saw the market swing $14 from March to April on 50’s, 60’s and 70’s:

Moving into the retail sector it comes as no surprise that pricing at store level has been consistent across all regions. The exception being a spike in the Midwest just after July 4th. With close proximity to the mother ship, the Northwest had the lowest retail of all regions.

Slicing the country in half tells a similar story. The southern regions kept retail below $1 outside of two weeks, while the northern region held retail pricing higher. The lower retails in the Northwest are highlighted below.

Matt DeBoer is senior vice president of Agtools Inc. He has more than 20 years of experience in the fresh produce industry.