Chip potato markets are extremely quiet. Business is steady, but movement has slowed from the torrid pace that persisted through the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Chip companies are running plants primarily on contract potatoes. Eastern chip companies have been able to fill in any supply gaps created by last summer’s drought in Maine and New York with potatoes from further west. USDA’s December 1 stocks report suggests that Wisconsin growers are holding a record amount of chip potatoes in storage this year.
USDA reports that growers in 11 reporting states held 268.5 million cwt of potatoes on December 1. That is 2.5 million cwt more than the year-earlier inventory, a 0.9% increase. The stocks included 10.9 million cwt of potatoes in Michigan. Michigan’s stocks were reported to be down 1.6 million cwt, or 12.8% from last year, but that is likely due to overcounting of Michigan’s 2019 production and stocks. Even though shipments of both chip and table potatoes exceeded last year’s pace, USDA reported a 17.5% decline in the state’s early-season disappearance, to 6.49 million cwt. Again, this appears to be because USDA overstated the size of the state’s 2019 potato crop, and had to make adjustments throughout the season to bring its estimate to zero by the end of the season.
US packers shipped 1.978 million cwt of table potatoes during the week ending December 19, 2020. That is down from 1.980 million cwt a year earlier. Michigan packers shipped 69,685 cwt of potatoes during the week ending December 12, 2020. That is up from 69,020 cwt during the same week in 2019. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 71.9% Russets, 11.1% Round White potatoes, and 17.0% Yellow varieties.
Michigan packers are selling size A Russets in 10# bags for mostly $12.00-$12.50 per 50# bale, unchanged from a week ago. Wisconsin packers are selling size A Russet potatoes in 10# bags for mostly $9.00-$9.50 per 50# bale, unchanged for the week. They are selling 40-70 count Russet count cartons for $13.00-$14.00 per 50# box, also unchanged for the week. The weighted average shipping point price for new-crop Idaho Russet Norkotahs is $13.73 per cwt, down from $14.03 per cwt a week ago.
In the Red River Valley size A Yellow potatoes are selling for mostly $24.00-$25.00 per cwt in 2000# totes, unchanged from last week.
Maine packers are selling 2 inch minimum Round White 10/5# film bags for $11.00-$11.50 per 50# bale, down from $10.50-$11.00 per bale a week ago.