Potato Growers Coping
While much of the attention of the 2021 growing season has been on the drought and record heat of this summer, the Idaho Potato Commission is still trying to adjust to the problems left behind by 2020.
Frank Muir, Executive Director of the Idaho Potato Commission says while some progress is being made to regain market share, a lot of work remains.
He noted that fast food restaurants are faring better than fine or casual dining. Muir added the pandemic has not gone away like many had hoped, so the Commission is working to move a lot of potatoes that would typically be bound for food service.
“We’ve put programs in place in Idaho that have benefited our shippers to adjust to whatever the circumstances are, and we’re prepared for this new crop again, again depending on the size profile, what the situation is, to implement programs that will be more dovetailed for the needs of this particular crop to move, as it should.”
Muir noted while many obstacles remain overseas, he has started to see a slight rebound.
“That’s probably been the most impacted from the COVID, because of travel and so forth. We’re still limited in our ability to travel to the countries we ship potatoes to. And that obviously affects business. We’ve had a hard time getting carriers to be able to ship our product across the ocean, and all of those things play into this. And even getting enough trucks, I mean everything is a challenge right now and has been for some time.”
Muir adds that for 2021, Idaho growers planted 314,000 acres, up from the 269,000 planted last year.