Retail sales of potatoes, including fresh potatoes and chips, have helped offset losses for the industry the occurred when schools and restaurants closed as a result of the pandemic.
Share on LinkedIn AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) - Officials in the potato industry are breathing a sigh of relief, having weathered the pandemic. In this weeks County Ag Report, Kathy McCarty has more on how retail sales offset some losses. The start of the pandemic had little impact on the 2019 crop. There was always a strong market on the chip side for the 19 crop, as well as the fresh side. People started staying home and buying potatoes to eat at home again, so that was very, very good for the crop - for the 19 crop, says Don Flannery, Executive Director of the Maine Potato Board. By fall, many schools and businesses remained closed, leaving officials in the industry concerned about moving the 2020 crop. We were all nervous. There was a lot of potatoes in storage. Potatoes are a perishable product, they have a shelf life, so, you know, we needed to be creative, be innovative, in partnership with the government to, you know, move this crop or the 2020 crop, says Dominic LaJoie, President of the National Potato Council. Despite losing sales to educational institutions and restaurants, retail sales have helped make up for lost sales elsewhere. Theres been great demand at retail level. Retail level and the chip industry had great demand all through this, which, you know, people were shopping more for groceries and so forth, and then bringing potatoes home to eat, says LaJoie. The markets have adjusted and potatoes are moving. Maine crop was smaller than normal due to the dry conditions all summer. I mean we had a small crop, but, you know, demand is good right now across all sectors, qualitys good. So, you know, I dont see any issues in moving this 2020 crop through the system. And with - anticipate that on the fresh side well probably be done shipping fresh potatoes a little earlier than normal, says Flannery. Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8 Copyright 2021 WAGM. All rights reserved. Most Read