Potatoes Grown in the Mitten State Contribute $2.5 Billion to Michigan’s Economy

As the "Potato Chip Capital of the U.S.,” one in four bags of potato chips enjoyed in America are filled with Michigan-grown spuds

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan-grown spuds deliver a pile of economic activity, generating more than $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP and supporting around 21,700 Michigan jobs, according to a report released Feb. 20, 2024 by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission. The analysis, authored by economists at Michigan State University, shows that potatoes are the second-largest commodity grown in Michigan, behind only apples, highlighting the importance of potatoes in the state’s economy and role in job creation. The report and its key takeaways can be found at MIPotato.com/NoSmallPotatoes

“No Small Potatoes: The Economic Contribution of the Michigan Potato Sector” finds that:

  • The Michigan potato supply chain delivers almost $1.5 billion in direct economic activity resulting from growing, processing, wholesaling, and retailing potatoes and potato products;
  • Michigan potatoes contribute an additional $1 billion in indirect economic activity from related industries and consumption; and,
  • The potato supply chain supports around 21,700 Michigan jobs, generating about $832 million in wages.
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“Michigan-grown potatoes are not just an affordable and nutritious food option, but they’re a major driver for our economy,” said Ryan Norton, Chair of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission and Farm Manager at Walther Farms in Three Rivers, Mich. “Generating $2.5 billion in GDP and supporting 21,700 jobs, our potato industry is invaluable to the state of Michigan.” 

The report also confirmed that Michigan is the chipping potato capital of the U.S., growing more potatoes that become potato chips than any other state. In fact, one out of every four bags of potato chips made in the U.S. is filled with Michigan-grown potatoes. Of the nearly 2 billion pounds of potatoes grown each year, about 70 percent of Michigan’s potato production by volume is sent to potato chip processors inside and outside of the state, supporting jobs in both rural and urban communities. 

“Most people recognize the importance of the potato industry to rural America, however, its contributions to urban communities are often overlooked,” said Phil Gusmano, Vice President of Purchasing of Detroit-based Better Made Snack Foods and commissioner on the Michigan Potato Industry Commission. “The Michigan potato industry’s $2.5 billion economic contributions are distributed throughout the value chain – beginning with growers, moving through processing facilities and distribution centers, and ending on grocery store shelves and restaurants. The industry truly impacts every corner of the Mitten State.” 

The report found that in 2022, Michigan potato growers produced almost 1.9 billion pounds of potatoes with farm sales of more than $246 million. The output ranks Michigan as the 8th largest state in potato production, and 6th in terms of sales – making potatoes the second largest Michigan-produced commodity, behind only apples. 

Potatoes are America’s most consumed vegetable and an inexpensive source of nutrition. Spuds are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, while remaining fat, gluten, cholesterol, and sodium free. 

Formed in 1970, the Michigan Potato Industry Commission is the state’s premier potato research, promotion, and education organization. Commission members are appointed by the governor and promote an economically viable potato industry throughout the state, representing all Michigan potato growers. 

The study was released one week before Michigan potato growers and industry partners are set to travel to Washington, D.C. to advocate for pro-potato policy priorities on Capitol Hill. The group will take the results from the report to members of Michigan’s Congressional Delegation to advocate for policies that will support Michigan’s economic and job health, including retaining potatoes’ place in federal nutrition programs, ensuring that potatoes are represented in the 2024 Farm Bill, promoting trade agreements with foreign countries, and protecting tax policies that support the long-term health of Michigan’s family-owned farming operations. 

About the Michigan Potato Industry Commission: The Michigan Potato Industry Commission (MPIC) was formed in 1970 by the Michigan legislature as the state’s potato research, promotion, and education organization. Learn more at mipotato.com.