Supplies of Wisconsin potatoes are good this season.
Christine Lindner, marketing manager for Friesland, WI-based Alsum Farms & Produce says the volumes of its russet as well as red and gold potatoes are comparable to last year at this time. “Our primary growing region is Wisconsin which allows us to efficiently serve Midwest retail partners and markets,” says Lindner.
As for demand, potatoes are coming into the time of year when interest in them is strengthening. “The holiday demand nearly triples the number of potato loads being packed and shipped to accommodate for Thanksgiving which is the peak of fresh market demand for potatoes,” says Lindner. “Alsum Farms & Produce is packing russet, gold and petite potatoes for holiday ads. We are currently promoting ad volume for reds on both A and B-size red and B-size gold potatoes. This size potato can help retailers bring a fresh offering to the category at a great value.”
The interest in local
Lindner also adds that specific to the Midwest market, consumers prefer buying local potatoes which positions Wisconsin-grown potatoes to fill that market demand.
In terms of general consumption though, while potatoes are a mature produce category, they have found resurgence as a pantry staple amidst the lingering pandemic. “Gold and petite size potatoes continue to grow in consumer demand,” says Lindner. “The specialty potato category, while small, continues to grow.”
Bagged potatoes continue be a consumer’s preference when shopping. “The majority of potatoes moving through the retail channel at grocery stores are five and 10 lb. bags as most consumers prefer picking up a bag or two vs. hand picking bulk potatoes. Consumers prefer that others are not touching their food within the produce aisle,” says Lindner.
Still cooking at home
Looking ahead, Lindner adds that consumers are also still cooking at home--a shift in eating and buying patterns triggered by the pandemic--and that retail demand from consumers looking for both nutritional and local foods will continue well above 2019 levels for the foreseeable future due to the lingering pandemic.
Also lingering from the pandemic are logistics and supply chain challenges. “From growing the crop to a rise in packaging for corrugated bins, pallets, labor to pack and fuel for freight deliveries are all escalating costs of business putting upward pressure on the market,” says Lindner.
As for pricing, it’s stable as the market heads into winter. “Potato volume at retail has softened from the pandemic but above 2019 potato volume at retail,” says Lindner.