Market Report August 26th, 2020

News Category: Market Reports
Truck hauling potatoes

As harvest continues to expand into fall growing areas chip companies are having no difficulty finding potatoes to cover loads lost to weather events. Nevertheless, they are keeping up with contract commitments – in some cases they are running ahead of schedule. Demand for potato chips is strong. This year’s crop has below average solids, though eastern buyers are indicating that solids from areas now harvesting are better than those from the summer growing areas. We also have picked up concerns with regard to internal defects on potatoes now being delivered. 
Michigan will see the first potatoes placed in storage next week. Most areas will start storing potatoes after Labor Day. With the main fall harvest just a couple of weeks away, market uncertainty appears to be higher than it ever has been at this time of the year. Reaction to COVID-19 has boosted demand for potato chips. The chip sector should do well during the coming year. There is no evidence of potatoes backing up as has often happened in past years. However, if demand for French Fries holds up as it has during the summer months, fryers will be short of raw product. They will compete with table potato interests for Russet potatoes and could be interested in open chip potatoes as well. Retail demand for table potatoes remains elevated, but foodservice sales have been limited by social distancing requirements and the shutdown of many restaurants and mass feeding operations. The situation is putting pressure on prices for Russet count cartons while bolstering prices for Russet consumer packs (5/10# and 10/5# bales).
US packers shipped 1.440 million cwt of table potatoes during the week ending August 22, 2020. That is up from 1.374 million cwt a year earlier. Michigan packers shipped 9,552 cwt of potatoes during the week ending August 22. That is down from 11,000 cwt during the same week in 2019. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 81.2% Russets, 14.7% Round White potatoes and 4.2% Red potatoes.
Wisconsin packers are selling size A Russet potatoes in 10# bags for mostly $10.00-$11.00 per 50# bale. That is unchanged from last week. They are selling 40-70 count Russet count cartons for mostly $18.00-$19.00 per 50# box. That is down from $20.00-$21.00 per box a week ago. The weighted average shipping point price for new-crop Idaho Russet Norkotahs is $20.68 per cwt. That is down from $23.28 per cwt a week ago.
Wisconsin packers are selling 10/5# bales of size A Yellow potatoes for mostly $18.00-$19.00 per bale, down from $20.00-$21.00 per bale a week earlier.
Delaware’s harvest has resumed after two weeks of rain delays. Delaware packers are selling baled 10/5# bags of size A Round White potatoes for $14.00-$14.50 per bale. Long Island packers are selling 10/5# bales of Round White potatoes for $14.50 per bale.