Thanks to the extreme heat during June, the Washington potato crop is coming up a bit short this year. Chris Voigt, Executive Director of the Washington state Potato Commission said this year’s crop is down by roughly 8% from the five-year-average. But when he speaks with individual growers, some report slight increases in the size of the harvest while others report a 30% drop in yields.
“So, it’s literally all across the board, and that’s got some impacts for us. You know, demand has actually been pretty good for us, and having a crop especially short 8% will have some ramifications for the market.”
Demand domestically is getting closer to pre-pandemic levels, but export demand is very comparable to 2019. Voigt added while demand overseas is very strong, the challenge lies in getting that product across the Pacific.
“We’ve had a hard time of finding containers and refrigerated containers to get our potatoes and our frozen potato products on there and shipped overseas. That continues to be a challenge, and so we’re trying to work with Congress and the federal Maritime Commission to really hold the Maritime shippers much more accountable to actually providing better service in order to get our product over there.”
Voigt noted while the price for cargo containers has come down in recent weeks, more needs to be done to help the potato industry. He added he is hopeful in the next six months to a year shipping will get back to normal, but until that happens it will be hard to meet the demand in Asia.
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