May 24, 2023Report: US potato production declines for fourth consecutive year
U.S. potato production declined for the fourth consecutive year, reaching its lowest level since 2010 and fueling a price surge, according to a recent report.
The 893,000 acres harvested in 2022/23 was the smallest on record, according to the U.S. Potato Outlook 2023/24 report, compiled by RaboResearch. The report cited factors including a sizable drop in Idaho’s production area, coupled with below-average yield and widespread water shortages, for the decline.
The resulting small crop drove potato prices to their highest level on record, the report found. Growers’ season-average price for all potato types climbed about 26% year-over-year and was 36% higher than the five-year average.
Strong demand for frozen potatoes also contributed to higher prices, the report found.
The report predicted a 2% year-over-year increase in acreage for the 2023/24 marketing year, based on competitive potato prices relative to alternative crops and an improve water outlook. Potato acreage lost to grains could also be restored as growers who opted for grains over potatoes in 2022/23 face negative soil impacts and increased environmental stresses, including the spread of weeds, pathogens and nematodes.
A corresponding 7% drop in prices is predicted for 2023/24.
Prices are expected to remain high for the remainder of the 2022/23 marketing year, though consumers are not expected to reduce consumption of potatoes, according to the report.
“Consumers are expected to continue paying record retail prices for their humble fresh and frozen potatoes, particularly russets, until a bountiful new crop hits the market,” the report said. “Despite the high prices, potatoes remain one of the few basic food categories for which consumers are willing to increase their per capita consumption when purchasing power is weakened.”